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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pest or Not? Sometimes it's hard to know.

I started out with the least frightening of the bunch. I couldn't indentify this caterpillar, so for all I know he's a pest in this form. Later on, as a butterfly, he may be a thing of beauty merely minding his own as he sucks nectar out of plants. Too cute.

At first I thought he was merely getting started on his cocoon, but I believe this is the end result. I found a site that said most butterlies don't build cocoons. They merely attach themselves to a leaf with silken threads.
http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/natbltn/400-499/nb468.htm
So I guess he's done and he'll be a butterfly. Cool.

This guy is also a bit of a pest as well as a benefit. This is a blue bottle fly. It eats decaying flesh. Yuck! Of course, if something didn't do that, the world would be full of rot. Problem is there's the tiny little matter of it's ability to feed in wounds (http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?recNum=IS0062). Double yuck. To begin with, something is alive that is rotting and then this thing shows up to eat it. Blech. Blech. Blech. That definitely puts it in the pest category. This is also the type of insect that makes it hard for me to defend my love of insects to other people, who say, may not share my affinity.

This guy falls squarely into the pest category since I swear the same one followed me everywere. Now, if you don't like ants or bees you may find a bit of a soft spot in your heart for this assasin. This is a robber fly. A Red-footed cannibal fly, I believe. Robber flies are not the nicest bunch to begin with, but as they go, this is one of the meanest of the bunch. These guys have even been known to go after ruby-throated hummingbirds. While these are smaller birds, they are larger than the fly.
http://www.hiltonpond.org/ThisWeek070901.html - scroll almost to the bottom to find the hummingbird story.

Technically, humans are in no danger from these flies, however, if you read the above account, you'd know better than to pick one up. If this thing got into some radiation and went all Godzilla on me, I'd run. I don't feel like being paralyzed, dissolved and eaten alive. Yes, it's amazing what an insect can do with enzymes and a proboscis.

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