Sunday, March 13, 2016

HumBug: Dandelions

Posted By on Sun, Mar 13, 2016 at 4:47 PM

click to enlarge A honeybee going to town on dandelion pollen. - ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Anthony Westkamper
  • A honeybee going to town on dandelion pollen.
In a recent exchange on an entomological Facebook page, someone urged me not to destroy the dandelions in my yard. I was told they are one of the first and most persistent sources of pollen and nectar for early emerging insects. The idea that the scourge of the lawnmower set could be so important amused me. However, always ready to question things, I did a few quick filters on my photo organizer and found 146 pictures of various insects fueling up at the brilliant yellow flowers.
click to enlarge A honeybee moves in to bully a smaller bee off the dandelion. It failed and moved on.
  • A honeybee moves in to bully a smaller bee off the dandelion. It failed and moved on.

There were members of many orders: Coleoptera (beetles), Diptera (glies), Hymenoptera (wasps and bees), Lepidoptera, butterflies and moths, and Dermaptera (earwig). It appeared that one earwig was actually eating the flower, petals and all.
click to enlarge Even the margined white butterfly can't resist.
  • Even the margined white butterfly can't resist.
So, I did a little reading on Taraxacum officinale, the common imported weed in our lawns. Alien invaders from the Old World they actually aren't all that invasive except in an environment where the competing grass and weeds are regularly mowed or disturbed. You almost never see them in an open meadow.

Among their laudable traits is the fact that they can produce latex similar to the traditional rubber tree. Continental Tire company is currently running trials on tires using “Taraxagum” tread
So, for now at least, I will postpone mowing the back yard. It's good to have a reason if anyone asks.


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