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Tiny Orange Visitors

by germinatrix | December 29th, 2009

It started with the molecular antennae sent up by one of my Kalanchoe beharensis…

yes, another odd flower spike in the garden of the germinatrix

yes, another odd flower spike in the garden of the germinatrix

Not bad, wouldn’t you say, ESP?

I imagined that the Kalanchoe might be signaling another planet with that bizarre contraption, but little did I know that I was actually fairly close to the truth of the matter!

Yesterday, these small, round, orange aliens began colonizing the spike. They are multiplying rapidly.

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkk!!!!!

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkk!!!!!

These little monsters are clearly bent on world domination.

Thank GOODNESS they’re only aphids! We know how to handle these – a strong jet of water is all I ever use to control aphids – I don’t use pepper sprays or insecticidal soap because a blast of water every morning controls them within a few days. I don’t need to obliterate them completely – that isn’t my style. What would my ladybugs eat if I got rid of all of my aphids? If we want our beneficial insects to work for us and with us, we can’t eliminate every beastie. The Good Guys would have no jobs to do! Gardeners who use Integrated Pest Management have to tolerate and even welcome the Bad Boys and their works – it’s all about balance.

an army of bright orange translucent sap suckers - kinda pretty

an army of bright orange translucent sap suckers - kinda pretty

I haven’t been able to blast away at these little creatures. I love the color! Yes they are Garden Baddies, but they are CUTE! They are like little cartoon bugs. I just wish they weren’t excreting sticky honeydew all over the fuzzy kalanchoe leaves, because the goo attracts ants, plus dust and dirt sticks to the gunk and it’s a big mess. So I WILL be terminating (as opposed to Germinating) them soon. But doesn’t it look like an Artisan from the East is encrusting the tender stems with little amber chips, as if to make a jewel-encrusted necklace? Wouldn’t that be SOOOO cool?

There is beauty in bugs. Even in aphids. I have heard tales of  an elusive aphid that lives on certain species of Podocarpus that is a lovely lavender-violet. I have been looking for these aphids for years and have never seen one. When I do, I’ll take plenty of pictures – and maybe I will find an Artisan from the East to create an Amber and Amethyst necklace inspired by these icky little beauties!

8 Responses to “Tiny Orange Visitors”

  1. Not bad at all G, not bad at all…

    I especially liked your concept of interplanetary communication from the Kalanchoe antennae, a theory that I have postulated about for years in the scientific community (strokes chin in a fake intelligent way). In fact, I have written a couple of published (ahem) papers on the subject. In one of my papers I offer conjecture that giant orange “Aphaliens” would most likely be the “visitors” that will arrive from outer space (only they would be much larger, say house size!) They will quickly devour all of the vegetation on the planet Earth, and unknowingly, in turn, cause the extinction of the human-race! (imperceptible right knee twitch)… Oh yes…mark my words, giant aphids! (insert wild mad-scientist hair and eyes)

    I am right there with you on the balance-front, I also very rarely intervene in situations like this, allowing nature to take care of it’s own. Although, if I have a hose in my hand when I see something like this, these guys will be going a-surfin’ – riding the Pipe-Line!

    Oh, and G? You need to put all your jewelry ideas down on paper so you don’t forget them!

    ESP.

  2. Hi, Germi — I find the yellow aphids the most pernicious and difficult to get rid of. They show up out of nowhere and eat tender buds, thereby ruining the flower show. I spray them and other pests (like spider mites) with rubbing alcohol. Seems to do the trick! Debra

  3. Girl, only you would find those cute! I’d be squishing them between my fingers to a quick painful death. But your pics are cool!

    Carri

  4. You’ve got me beat in the bug appreciation department. I’d be getting rid of those critters so fast your head would spin! The color is fabulous but all that icky honeydew all over your beautiful Kalanchoe, yuck. Plus I would fear an all out infestation of epic proportions. The lil guys have definitely went to the right place!

  5. I’m with you Germi – I tend to leave little critters alone…unless they’re spiders in my house. But even then, I beg my husband to not hurt them as he’s throwing them outside.

    I’ve never even seen the orange aphids – only the common green or drab brown ones. Only YOU would have the cool ones! In addition to spraying them with a hose, I also give the stem a firm thump – secretly enjoying watching them fly off in all directions….so mean, I know…

  6. ESP! Happy New Year!
    I certainly hope 2010 is not the year for the massive Aphalien (BAHahahaha!) Invasion – we are simply not prepared. It may be that their coming was what is being fortold by the Mayans … Dec 21, 2012, the day the monstrous globular orange Aphaliens descended upon the Planet Earth and sucked us dry, leaving honeydew rivers for ants to feast upon (the ants then became giants as well). We must prepare. I’m going to chop down my Kalanchoe flower and end the intergalactic communication, thereby saving the world.
    On a more pedestrian but also more fashionable note – your Hobbit Girl and I may have to collaborate on a line of jewelry in the future … I see great potential in her!

    Debra, I had no idea these guys were that tough! I’m getting rid of them tomorrow. Now that I have the pics of them, who needs the real thing? They can be on their way via my garden hose! If that doesn’t do it, I’m using your method! Thanks!

    OMG Carri I almost barfed. You SQUISH them? And POP them? EEEeeewww! I once worked with someone who would cut a grasshopper in half w/ her pruners whenever she came across them. I almost lost my lunch several times after she guillotined the bigger ones. You must have an iron stomach and nerves of steel? Or am I just a complete wimpy girly girl baby?

    Hey Loree! Healing those bones? I know, wise and sane gardeners would get these critters gone – but I let them hang around. However, Debra says they are the WORST – so maybe I should give them the heave ho and let my live and let live attitude play out with the regular garden-variety aphids. No need to tempt fate, right?
    So far, the aphids haven’t really gone beyond the molecular flower spike, and I haven’t seen any ants. But the sticky crap – ICK! I’ll hose it all off tomorrow and see where that gets us…
    XO!

    Sweet Rebecca! You DO have a thing about spiders! Did you know that all humans on earth are never more than 6 feet away from a spider? Did I just freak you out? (that might not be true – I saw an episode of Law&Order Special Victim’s Unit where an entomologist with a split personality said that).
    Just wait until I find the elusive PURPLE aphids! Ooolala!
    Before I squirt the aphids, I’ll thump the stem in your honor…
    XO!

  7. Oooh, I saw that same variety at the fullerton arboretum: orange aphids.

  8. Oleander aphids are awesome bugs. :) I did a post on them (along with some other insects) this past summer: http://thecluelessgardeners.blogspot.com/2009/09/milkweed-insects.html I’m thrilled to see that someone else out there appreciates them!

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