Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pink and White Lantana Featuring Amorous Flies and Butterflies

To add vibrancy to the garden, it is always a strategic move to have some butterfly attractants to the garden.  One of this is Lantana Camara. 


Lantana camara has small tubular shaped flowers arranged in terminal clusters. Each tiny flower has four petals. The flowers on the outer ring of the cluster open first, followed by the next inner row. The buds appeared as little bows.

I like this combination of sweet pastel colours. The mix of baby pink and light cream flowers is almost perfect.

A female Jacintha Egg Fly (Hypolimnas bolina jacintha) frolicked on this shrub.

This Jacintha Egg Fly can be seen extending its long proboscis deep into the tubular part of the tiny flowers. 

Another had its wings slightly open revealing its gender - a male.

A tiny yellow butterfly took refuge from the heat on the underside of a leaf.

A "Painted Lady" butterfly winging colours to compete with these striking orange-yellow Lantana flowers.

"Flies in the family Sarcophagidae (from the Greek sarco- = flesh,  phage = eating; the same roots as the word "sarcophagus") are commonly known as flesh flies. They differ from most flies in that they are ovoviviparous, opportunistically depositing hatched or hatching maggots instead of eggs on carrion, dung, decaying material, or open wounds of mammals, hence their common name." ~extracted from Wikipedia


CAUTION: The following three photos are X-rated. Self-censorship is strongly advised.


One day while looking for bugs, my lens zoom in on an amorous pair of flesh flies (Sarcophaga carnaria).

This pair were caught in flagrante delicto right on the leaf of my L. camara.

"Flesh flies are often mistaken for houseflies due to their coloration and markings. However, their gray-checkered abdomens are distinctively larger than those of the housefly. Typically, flesh flies exhibit three dark stripes along the prothorax and four distinct bristles atop the thorax. An extra row of bristles is found beneath the flesh flies’ wings and yet another can be found at each side of the thorax. Flesh flies measure approximately 10 to 13 mm from end to end. Larvae are yellow in color, with pointed heads. Along with bottle and blowflies, flesh flies prove useful to forensic entomologists. These fly larvae may assist in pinpointing time of death. ~ extracted from Wikipedia

Flesh flies reproduce on decaying vegetable items, animal flesh, carcasses, garbage and excrement. Although flesh flies do not bite and are not carriers of disease, their feeding habits can become a nuisance. However, larvae can also prove beneficial to humans, as they are parasitic on the eggs and immatures of other pests such as grasshoppers, blowflies, houseflies, spiders and snails." ~extracted from http://www.orkin.com

A container of Lantanas in assorted colours. 

A few heads of the pastel Pink and white Lantana camara in a simple white vase.




Thursday, July 10, 2014

Busy As A Bee

Its no wonder the phrase "busy as a bee" was coined. Whenever the flowers in my garden are in bloom, honey bees (Apis mellifera)  jet in, making a beeline for their favourites.

To get at the sweet nectar of these portulaca grandiflora blooms, they can curve, contort and assume all sorts of posture.





 


The pristine white flowers of Echinodorus palaefolius (mexican sword plant) provide numerous opportunities for them to imbibe.

Double-petaled Quisqualis indica (Rangoon creeper) exude a delicate fragrance to ensure their visitation.

The flowers of Cuphea hyssopifolia (Mexican Heather) are tiny, but they made up for it in numbers. 

They scramble over the filaments of Calliandra emarginata (Dwarf Red Powder Puff) to get at the nectar located at their bases.

This is a smart cookie as it go through the "back door" to have the goodies without having to return the favour of spreading the pollens.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Philodendron bipinnatifidum - The Lacy Tree Philodendron

Lacy tree philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum or P. selloum) grows large with enormous glossy leaves that are deeply divided into narrow, wavy-margined lobes. The leaves are held on long petioles and  reach up to 3 ft  long. Older and larger plants develop leaves that are more deeply dissected and more ruffled. For this characteristic, it is also called the Split-leaf philodendron. The plant itself grows to a height of 10 feet or more and a broad spread of up to 8 feet. It requires little care except for the occasional trimming of the lower leaves.

The easiest way of propagating this plant is to simply cut the top section and take at least two strong roots.  This top cutting can then be potted and the old stem which is now leafless will eventually produce new leaves, usually in two to three clusters.


The leaves are broad and lush taking up lots of room in the planter box.


The pinnated leaves are borne on long petioles which extend them high up.


The stem is the central axis of the plant and provides support. However it tends to fall over and sprawl when the plant gets large.

View from outside the dining area

The broad leaf provided ...

a soft landing for a fallen fledgling sparrow. I put it back on the nest above.


Tasha positioned herseif under the Philodendron bipinnatifidum to have a cool  lookout for birds and cats.

 
Here a smaller specimen of Philodendron bipinnatifidum is seen to be equally happy in a relatively small container.

Filtered light through the leaves provide just the right touch of solar nourishment for delicate plants below.

The columnar flower bud emerges from a leaf axil. The inflorescence consists of a 1 ft long white spathe enclosing an upright spadix with many tiny pale yellow petalless flowers.


The robust stem shows typical 'leaf scars' forming an interesting pattern. Stout, aventitious aerial rootlets are seen sprouting out between conspicuous leaf scars. 


A sparrow was seen cracking a seed under the broad canopy of the Philodendron bipinnatifidum.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Alocasia macroorrhizos - Giant Elephant Ears

Alocasia macroorrhizos, (Upright Elephant Ears, Giant Taro, Wild Taro) is a stunning plant that can be found growing by roadsides and in jungles, more often next to jungle streams.  Its should be watered well especially in hot weather and as the plant grows larger. However, too much water will rot the tuber. To avoid this, well draining soil is imperative. 

When planted in the ground and fed regularly with organic fertilisers, it will easily grow up to ten feet high.  If grown in a container, it will not reach its full potential, unless the pot is very large. Over time, it will develop a tree-like stem. Offsets (plantlets) are produced from mature plants. These baby Alocasias can then be easily transplanted.

 
It can be planted in either sun or in shade. The plants here grow in full sun together with the Bougainvilleas.


A leaf bud unfurled over about three to four days from ... 

 
... the stalks of older leaves.
 
When the leaf first make its way out, it is held stiffly upwards, with prominent veining on the underside of the leaves. The large emerald green leaves are glossy and can measure up to three feet long.  


Over time, the leaves bend over.


On the underside of the large leaves, insects abound.
A pair of ladybugs huddled together for some coziness.


Close-ups of the playful pair.

I was curious about a whitish film until I saw this many legged arachnid and immediately identified as a tiny spider.



This is the elaborate web strung up by this little fella to trap unsuspecting and unfortunates critters.

 
Tiny larvae moving away from the nest to make it on their own.



The young spathe standing tall and erect in its sheath.




An autumnal-looking leaf is a sure sign that it had reached its golden years 


 
 
An elegant looking fly with a blue iridescent coat was deeply attracted to the golden colouring.



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