17 June 2009

shiny green fat thighs

Shiny green is on trend in the garden this summer.  Fat-legged Beetles are iridescent green on the ox-eyes, feeding on pollen and nectar and looking for mates.  The males have bulging muscle-mary thighs - they don't hop or jump or do fancy mating dances so why these are so enlarged is a mystery - and these make them easy to identify. They can also be bronze, copper or violet but the ones here are green.
The females have dainty legs and fatter abdomens.  This one is feeding from a Geranium flower (already occupied by a White Faced Bee).  The larvae feed inside the stems of Spanish Broom (Spartium) and Thistles (Cirsium).  There are plenty of thistles for them - I like thistles, I like beetles, so it's a good combination.
More glossy green nibbling away in the garden, and seen for the first time this year, is the Mint Beetle. They are ravenous devourers of mint and related plant species.  I love their chubbiness and beautiful metallic green - they sparkle like scattered gems - and their shy shuffling retreat beneath the leaves when they see you coming is charming (the larvae are less charming - like the similar Lily and Rosemary beetles the grubs cloth themselves with camouflage coats smeared of their own shit).  I will probably curse them once they breed like rabbits and completely devour some ' related plant species' that I like but for now the mint's dusty drabness does get a pleasing bit of glitter.

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