Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The gardener's friend

A welcome visitor to the trap last night. A lacewing. They are those delicate insects with long, transparent wings whose vein patterns look a little like lace and account for the name. They quite often come into the house to seek warmth at this time of year, changing their green colour to pink as the days get colder. This picture will have been one of the last things seen by countless aphids and other enemies of the diligent gardener. Lacewings are so fond of eating small pests that you can even buy them online, sometimes in mixed packs with ladybirds which do an equally good scavenging job. Lacewing larvae also eat aphids and have a nicely gruesome way of sneaking up on their prey. They disguise themselves with leftover bits of other aphids which they've just captured and eaten. Isn't Nature sweet? Click on the pic, btw, to see the lacewing's delightful face closer, plus the unexpected hairiness of ageing egg boxes. Maybe I should have a caption competition too, both for the lacewing and the other, smaller insect which is possibly being assessed as potential lunch.


Christine Alvin said...

I suspect that the lacewing has aspirations to be reborn as a praying-mantis in the next life; the expression on its face is predatory beyond belief, and the other creature appears to be cowering with fear.
Are eggboxes made of flong still? Or is flong just an old-fashioned term for recycled paper or papier maché? On your magnified photo it looks more as though you're using a discarded cashmere sweater as a comfortable lure in the moth trap.
Incidentally, the venerable Joseph Wright came from Thackley not Saltaire.
all the best Calvin
n.b we have a blog too now, not as inspired as yours, but at least it's local - www.friendsofbuckwood.blogspot.com

MartinWainwright said...

Hi there!

Excellent - I'd never thought of eggboxes as flongs - a word I associate with old-fashioned printing of newspapers such as the Guardian. When I was on the Evening Standard, there was a flong-carrier who took them across Shoe Lane to be covered in molten lead, plus a deputy flong-carrier in case the first one was run over. But I guess the metrial is the same. The eggboxes are very battered as they have been through a whole summer now. Sorry about Prof Wright. Being a Thckley man explains his genius. I shall post haste to your blog. Everyone should have one. It doesn't matter who reads them or even if no one does. They're out there!