Tuesday, March 6, 2012
No, We're not obsessed with bugs
The heralded Aphidoletes aphidimyza is my new favorite aphid eater. When Tim told me how these little fellows worked, I thought he was making it up.
Aphidoletes aphidimyza is a tiny midge whose larvae are known to attack at least 60 different species of aphids. Adults live an average of 10 days, and lay 70-100 eggs close to aphid colonies. The eggs hatch after 3-4 days into orange, legless larvae that feed on aphids.
HERE IS THE BEST PART.....THE LARVAE KILL APHIDS BY BITING THEM IN THEIR KNEE JOINTS, INJECTING A TOXIN THAT PARALYZES THEM, AND THEN SUCKING OUT THE BODY CONTENTS. WOW!
The larvae can kill from 4-65 aphids in the 3-5 days they take to mature. Then they spin cocoons and pupate for 2 weeks.
We do not have an obsession with bugs, but they are a vital part of the health of our tomatoes. If there was a better balance of beneficials insects to the bad insects, I wouldn't have much to write about, now would I?