Friday, June 08, 2007

Backyard Biodiversity Project - Day 8

Who knew that five cements steps leading up to the front door could be such a challenge. This seemingly sterile landscape shelters communities tucked in cracks and along the edges where debris collects.

There are the remnants of a European honey bee, a lone pill bug marching along, clusters of springtails breaking down the debris into soil.

Everything is small here. My loop reveals that the tiny spider with its web among the brick edging is a young black widow. One springtail stands out from the rest. It is larger, honey colored and has longer antennae.

Then I stumble across the truly unusual. In this brown and grey world, a lime-green maggot only 4mm long. Is it masquerading as a caterpillar? What is it doing among the dead leaves? What is it?

I search through my books and find nothing. I go back to take a photo and it is gone.

Searching the Internet I finally find that it is a larva from the Syrphid fly family, a kind of flower or hover fly.
This green guy was looking for aphids or other insects to eat.

Just as importantly, I found two wonderful insect identification resources:
  • The Bug Guide - scientific source with a great search capability
  • What's That Bug - two "save-that-beneficial-insect" like-minded folks also from Los Angeles helping people all over the world identify insects

A driving force of the Backyard Biodiversity Project is becoming aware of the living things that are sharing this small piece of the planet with me. Be INFORMED before you squash! Most bugs, even my green maggot, are beneficial to humans and the planet.

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