Free-living insects are able to move between and feed from different plants in the wild, unlike their less mobile endophytic counterparts, which spend a large part of their lives in a restricted area of the plant, often inside the tissues. When plants are targeted by bugs that depend on them for food and shelter, they often rely on defence responses that deter their attackers. However, some insects manipulate these mechanisms to counter the plants’ defence and even create a better nutritional environment around feeding sites. Until now, it was believed that only endophytic insects employed this strategy. … more
Cuban brown anole have been moving in and pushing the native green anoles out. If you see any take a few minutes to fill out the survey for the SW Center for Herpetological Research (link below)
Sigh. This wasn’t a planned event. I was fetching a pot and discovered it had been taken over by a honey bee colony. I’m working on finding them a new home.
After a bit of digging it is clear that keeping them or relocating them myself is not a good plan. 3BeeGuys.com is coming this afternoon to relocate them.
In lower Montgomery, upper Harris county we have 4 venomous snakes, only 3 of which you are likely to run across: Southern Copperhead, Western Cottonmouth, Texas Coral snake. Below are photos pointing out the identifying marks.
I often see coral and copperhead snakes sunning themselves on trails along the bayous in the summer.
Scientists removed insects from fields of primrose for several years.
In just a few generations the primrose relaxed it’s defenses against insects and devoted more energy to competing for space and resources.
In the study, 16 identical plots were set up that contained the same relative numbers of 18 unique genotypes of native evening primrose. During each growing season, half the plots were treated biweekly with an insecticide; the other half were not.
The offspring of evening primrose are mostly clones of the parent due to self-pollination and other factors in primrose reproduction.
Of the genotypes that remained in the plots without insects, the researchers found more plants with relaxed defenses. By 2010 and even more in 2011, there was a shift toward plants that flowered earlier. When insects are present, later-flowering plants do better due to the timing of insect development, where larvae tend to eat the fruits of early flowering plants. Also, over time, there was a shift toward primroses with lower amounts of insect-deterring chemicals in the fruits, suggesting that in the wild, selection had been strongest for defense against flower and fruit eating insects.
Finally, without insects, primroses were better able to compete against dandelions – primrose genotypes that led to larger plants were favored when compared to the controls.
“The effects of insect pests can have immediate consequences for plant health and also sweeping consequences for evolution of entire communities,” Agrawal said.
This plant showed up of its own accord and grew to about 3′ in a month.
A bit of digging revealed it to be a Candle Bush. Since it was in the butterfly garden next to the driveway I thought I’d leave it a bit and see what happened.
It will grow 3′-4′ tall around here, I met someone who claims to have one 6′ tall in her garden. Flowers are yellow, spiky and attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. They do not winter over in cold years.
Like most butterfly attractor plants it does best with lots of sun.
Unfortunately they also attract fire ants, I had been warned of this and inspecting the plant last week I found several fire ants crawling around the base and a nest built right next to the trunk of the plant, so out it went.
It is supposed to be a good fungicide for ringworm and other skin fungal infections. It also well known as a laxative among other medicinal uses.
Like most plants here it is toxic, do not use it medicinally with out more research.
Native to east Africa.
Candle Bush at Dave’s Garden