Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Save the Insects!!

We never hear that, do we, except about the honey bee. The proof that insects are vital to this world is in the flowers. The adaptations flowering plants use to attract pollinators impress even us. When I take the photos, I sometimes don't even see insects. Left is a super close-up of pussy toes, with a tiny ant making its way through a tangle of flower parts. The plant gets about a foot tall and has a very small flower head, see below.
As a child I had 3 huge lilac bushes in the yard, which were covered with all shapes and sizes of buzzing insects during blooming. The heavenly lilac aroma carried on the wind, pulling my nose closer to bury itself in a pile of flowers.
One thing to remember about the stinging insects: while "pasturing" in flowers they are too busy to bother stinging anyone. Squishing them incurs their angry reaction. Treat them gently and approach without fear or swatting, and you can observe them safely, even up close. I kept honey bees for many years while living in Kansas and learned that bees and wasps are territorial and will protect their brood to the death. While they are collecting pollen and nectar, stuffing themselves, they're away from home and too fat and happy to bother stinging. So, if we're relaxed about our interactions, they will be too.

I used to have a butterfly ID book, but I have misplaced it. It didn't have the moths in it, so sometimes the flying insect remained a mystery. I think it's a painted lady on the lilac bloom, but I'm not sure. With internet sites and photos, maybe I won't need a book. The website I found to ID butterflies of Arkansas was created by photographer, Herschel Raney.
The photos you see here were taken by me this spring.
Beautiful flower gardens are more than a feast for the human eye -- it's prime real estate for bugs -- the ecosystem. Life is interdependent and each species has its role to play. So before you reach for a spray can of bug-killing poison, remember, the web of life holds you too. Life is abundant and messy, but delicious, so move over all you bugs, my nose wants to be buried in lilacs.