9 August 2022
Every August the false sunflowers in Schenley Park become covered in red aphids. My first reaction is disgust, then I look for aphid predators and protectors.
Aphid predators include ladybugs, syrphid flies (hover flies), parasitic wasps and lacewing larvae. Their protectors are the ants who harvest their honeydew.
The ants were out in full force and chased off a ladybug that flew to escape them.
The ladybug found a safer place to munch on aphids. No ants in sight.
Syrphid flies hovered and darted among the leaves, choosing to lay eggs where there would be plenty of aphids for their larvae to feed on.
Larger predators lay in wait to eat the aphid eaters. Can you see the spider inside this flower?
Here’s a hint. His feet are dangling are at the bottom of the circle.
I’m sure there were many more predators lying in wait for aphids. This video shows what to look for.
(photos by Kate St. John)