Sunday, April 12, 2020

HumBug: Early Spring Pollinators

Posted By on Sun, Apr 12, 2020 at 4:37 PM

Spring is on the way. I saw my first trillium bloom of the year, and the daffodils and stone fruit trees are in full bloom. The last few sunny days have brought forth pollinators. I think it's kind of a chicken-and-egg problem. The flowers get pollinated by bugs. If the flowers aren't open the insects starve. If the flowers open and there are no insects, they don't get pollinated and don't set seed. The balance has been honed over millennia and everything works out. My rosemary is being serviced largely by the hirsute bees of the family anthrophora.
Fuzzy Anthrophora pacifica work diligently, harvesting pollen and nectar from rosemary. - PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper
  • Fuzzy Anthrophora pacifica work diligently, harvesting pollen and nectar from rosemary.
These fuzzy, stocky bees are a bit larger than honeybees and are quick, nervous fliers. They are “solitary bees,” which means they don't have workers maintaining a nest. Each female burrows into the ground, lays eggs and sets out provisions for them. After reaching their adult phase, they go on alone.

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Sunday, April 5, 2020

HumBug: A Recipe for History

Posted By on Sun, Apr 5, 2020 at 4:50 PM


Driving back from San Francisco, I stopped on the side of the road to take a couple of pictures and collect a few oak apple galls. About a year ago a tiny wasp laid an egg in the freshly growing leaf bud. When the egg hatched, the larva that emerged secreted a chemical that stimulated the surrounding tissue to grow into a growth about the size of a tennis ball. Inside, the larva fed on the tissues, molted, fed some more, repeating the process several times until it pupated (cocoon phase) and finally chewed its way out and flew away to its destiny. The “gall” was left behind. This process has been going on for millions of generations, and a good thing for western civilization.
PHOTO BY ANTHONY WESTKAMPER
  • Photo by Anthony Westkamper

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