The Bug Lady

Maria Keat­ing, an ento­mol­o­gist with City Farmer came by for lunch on Fri­day.  She brought a bas­ket of car­niv­o­rous plants and her exten­sive knowl­edge about plant/insect/human rela­tions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pitch­er plant attracts insects into it’s long pitch­er shaped flower. The insect is trapped inside, drowned and slow­ly digest­ed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anoth­er car­niv­o­rous plant, Drosera Capen­sis, feeds on fruit flies.  Maria used this as an exam­ple of work­ing with nat­ur­al sys­tems rather than against them. The Drosera is a nat­ur­al way to elim­i­nate fruit flies from your kitchen. To see this plant in action click here.

Maria also brought a kale leaf absolute­ly cov­ered in aphids!!! She made an impor­tant point with this small leaf. Aphids aren’t real­ly as prob­lem­at­ic as they seem.  They are an impor­tant food source for lady­bugs and oth­er preda­tors.  Some­times it’s best to have a sac­ri­fi­cial plant that is left to the aphids as they will attract oth­er insects that are impor­tant to the health of your gar­den.

On just one leaf we dis­cov­ered Hov­er­fly lar­vae which also like to eat aphids and evi­dence of par­a­sitic wasps which lay their eggs inside aphids. The aphids becomes brown in colour or like a paper bag and dies as the wasp off­spring con­sumes it’s insides.

Accord­ing to Maria, once you start to pay atten­tion to these nat­ur­al sys­tems you real­ize there is so much more hap­ping in your gar­den then you would have guessed.

Pol­li­na­tors are also very impor­tant for the gar­den.  Maria brought some mason bee cocoons to show how mason bees lay their eggs. A native bee species mason bees are soli­tary and do not have hives.  Instead they lay their eggs in wood usu­al­ly drilled by wood­peck­ers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They use mud to seal off each room filled with eggs and pollen cre­at­ing a series of cham­bers.  Mason bees are pro­lif­ic pol­li­na­tors.  By cre­at­ing a home and access to mud it’s pos­si­ble to attract them to any area.

Maria opened up anoth­er world that remains large­ly invis­i­ble in the urban gar­den. We’re so glad she dropped by for lunch. 

 

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