Saturday, October 25, 2014

Wasp Moth and Seedlings

Scarlet-bodied Wasp Moth (Cosmosoma myrodora) on a marigold

Whilst planting the winter seedlings today (yes, I'm a bit late...) I was graced with the presence of this beautiful wasp moth (Family Arctiidae). You can see the marigold through its clear wings in the photo above, a trait not shared by all wasp moths. The moths mimic wasps in their general form and shape and imitate either the flight habits or resting positions of wasps. Some feed on poisonous plants as larvae and attain the added defense of integrating the host plant's toxins into its body as a deterrent against predation. Bright coloration is a warning of the moth's toxicity, however this particular moth is banking on everyone else instilling the fear of indigestion on would-be predators since its larvae do not feed on toxic plants; it merely uses the bright colors as a bluff. Both pretending to be a wasp (in form and behavior) and utilizing false warning coloration are examples of Batesian mimicry...pretending to be bad-ass when you're not. Perhaps there is someone you know who employs this same type of defensive strategy. ("You're not fooling anyone, you know..." ~MP)


Winter seedlings in their trays

A row of newly planted Johnny jump-ups (Viola tricolor)

The winter seedlings are just over a month old and most are about an inch all around in size - tiny! Since I was so late getting these started, I decided to forgo the process of "growing out" in a pot. Along with the aforementioned Johnnies, I've planted:
  • blue lobelia 'Crystal Palace' (Lobelia erinus)
  • giant red mustard (Brassica juncea)
  • purple ornamental cabbage (Brassica oleracea)
  • dwarf pak choi 'Toy Choi' (Brassica rapa)
  • leeks (Allium ampeloprasum)
  • pink-ish calendula 'Zeolights' (Calendula officinalis) 
  • flat leaf parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
  • feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
  • carnation 'Siberian Blue' (Dianthus amurensis) and 
  • Stoke's blue aster (Stokesia laevis)
The latter three I don't expect to bloom until spring. Tomorrow, because I demand they grow quickly, I'm going to douse them with fish emulsion. In the meantime, the Devil's Trumpet and marigolds have been blooming like crazy. They certainly didn't do that over the summer, but they're lovely now.



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