During July and August this year, I spent some time on a step ladder, examining a honeysuckle vine (Lonicera hyb. ‘Mandarin’) that grows on our garage wall. I found an amazing diversity of bugs congregating around this vine, so I thought it would be interesting to do a photo record of the variety of life that congregates here.
Why is this vine so popular? When in bloom, the tubular flowers attract a variety of bees, butterflies, moths and even ruby-throated humming birds. But these are, relatively speaking, the mega fauna. The real source of attraction on this vine are the many aphids that feed on it and the various arthropods that find them, or what they produce, attractive. The pest-prone Mandarin honeysuckle is a true bug magnet.
As part of my naturalistic gardening practices, I follow a no-spray policy throughout the garden, so the bugs have almost¹ complete free reign on our property. Like most suburban homes I am surrounded by neighbours with varying attitudes towards their yards – all are lawn based and most suffer under regimens ranging from benign neglect to pesticide drenched sterility. Years ago we began ridding our home of turf and we began replacing it with a variety of trees, shrubs and perennials (see Zone 3b for more). So, despite living in the ‘burbs of Edmonton, Alberta, our average-sized property provides an interesting range of buggy photographic material throughout the frost-free season.
The photographs were taken on or immediately beneath the honeysuckle: a rose and a rhubarb plant were also receiving drips of aphid honeydew. I have not identified all of the insects yet – some photographs may show the same species. I will blog on the individuals as I obtain I.D’s. Some visitors to the vine were too active to photograph, or they moved only within the mesh of stems, so this record does not show all the specimens I observed.
Click individual photos to enlarge. ID suggestions welcome!
So what’s the point of this amateur bug survey? If I was a less tolerant gardener, or a less observant photomacrographer, I may have sprayed this plant with a mist of pesticide. Along with the possible death of the aphids (not guaranteed, as pesticide resistance in aphids is on the increase) almost every single insect that would come into contact with the pesticide would also be affected. Butterflies, bees, moths, aphid parasites, aphid predators and the multitude of scavengers on aphid honeydew (many who prey on, or parasitize other garden pests) – all would succumb.
That’s no way to encourage diversity.
(All photographs taken with a Nikon D80 with a Tamron 90mm DI macro lens mounted on a Kenko Pro 1.4x tele-extender and artificially lit with diffused Nikon R1 system flashes.)
¹ Certain pests, like the Delphinium leaftier, may be ‘plucked’ out on occasion, to the benefit of our resident ants or the goldfish