Lady Bugs In The Coral Dunes

A couple of years ago my wife and I stopped at an attraction on the way back to Seattle from a bike trip in the Santa Fe and Taos region. The attraction was called the Coral Dunes National Monument. The place was amazing. Everywhere one looked there were coral dunes. That was probably why they called it the Coral Dunes National Monument. There were some hiking paths indicated and we set out on one of them. Almost immediately the pink dunes were full of interesting and beautiful plants, most of which I had never seen before. In the process of photographing one of the ones that I had seen before – yucca – I noticed that it was alive with lady bugs. Closer examination showed why. The yucca was also alive with aphids. There were a great many more aphids than there were lady bugs and that was good for the lady bugs because aphids are sort of like cattle to lady bugs. I've never been clear about what it is that lady bugs do to or with aphids, but it has something to do with food. The lady bugs either eat or milk, or both, the lady bugs. I could visualize the lady bug eating an aphid, but I had a lot of trouble picturing the lady bug milking an aphid. I didn't even know where the aphids' udder and related equipment might be located. I wasn't even sure whether they had such equipment. And that was, in substantial part, why I had such a problem with visualizing the milking process, if indeed such a process actually existed. In any event I saw neither eating nor milking while I was observing the creatures, but I got some good pictures and when I got back to Seattle and took a look at the pictures I had taken, I discovered that, due to the fairly dense pixel depth of my pictures, I could zoom in on them with Photo Shop and extract fairly intimate pictures of the lady bugs farming their aphids



A Day At The Aphid Ranch

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  • Bug Ten
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