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Arnside and beyond

Wednesday 15 June 2011: Aphid family

These aphids are feeding on the sap of the Rough Hawkbit (Leontodon hispidus) that grows in our lawn. Every day or so, they give birth to a new aphid by a process called parthenogenesis. The new daughter aphid is a genetic copy of the parent. If the population doubles every day or so, you soon have an infestation. We watched the new daughters being budded off last night. I haven't seen any predator insects such as ladybirds tackling the aphids, though the house sparrows have been coming down for a sugary snack.

We don't use chemicals in the garden, and we never seem to have major and long-lasting infestations of aphids. A balance seems to be found between the goodies and the baddies of the insect world.

I cycled to work today, 12 miles each way, the first time for two years, and my goodness it felt like it too. I didn't want to carry the Nikon with me for the extra weight and fear of damage in a spill, so I was restricted to a few garden shots when I got home (exhausted). It was a shame because the trees outside the office were hosting a family of young great tits who were begging for food just outside the window.

The house sparrows also have a new brood in the box, and a hungry gape was visible at the entrance hole as the adults brought in food. It's an amazing turnround, it was only 4 weeks ago that I blipped one of the youngsters from the first brood, head out of the box, a day or two before fledging.

An early night tonight. I need to catch up with some sleep to be alert for tomorrow. I'm giving a presentation at a training day for planners on the Habitats Regulations (that enact the European Habitats Directive), not the easiest subject to get across in half an hour.

Thans for all the comments, stars and hearts for yesterday's bee and foxglove, much appreciated.


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