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A Bug for Dan

John53

I go leaps and bounds
Premium Member
Here's a dumb question. I put cheap plastic edging around the garden which has broken down over the years from the sun and me hitting it with the edge trimmer. Today I was sitting down doing some weeding and noticed ants walking away with little bits of plastic. What use would they have for it? I can't imagine they're mistaking it for food. Birds do so I guess it's possible.
 

Dan From Smithville

Monsters! Monsters from the id! Forbidden Planet
Staff member
Premium Member
Here's a dumb question. I put cheap plastic edging around the garden which has broken down over the years from the sun and me hitting it with the edge trimmer. Today I was sitting down doing some weeding and noticed ants walking away with little bits of plastic. What use would they have for it? I can't imagine they're mistaking it for food. Birds do so I guess it's possible.
I wouldn't call it a dumb question. It's an interesting observation that I have no answer to. Any idea what kind of plastic? Is there anything obviously growing on it? Fungi or algae?

Are birds eating it?

I suppose it could be leaching some chemical that is confusing the ants.
 

John53

I go leaps and bounds
Premium Member
I wouldn't call it a dumb question. It's an interesting observation that I have no answer to. Any idea what kind of plastic? Is there anything obviously growing on it? Fungi or algae?

Are birds eating it?

I suppose it could be leaching some chemical that is confusing the ants.

Can't see anything obvious growing on it. I looked up the product online and it just says plastic. Next time I'm in there I'll have a look at a packet of it and see if it says what kind of plastic.

This stuff is similar https://www.bunnings.com.au/jack-150mm-x-6m-corrugated-plastic-garden-edging_p3320602
 

Dan From Smithville

Monsters! Monsters from the id! Forbidden Planet
Staff member
Premium Member

John53

I go leaps and bounds
Premium Member
I wouldn't call it a dumb question. It's an interesting observation that I have no answer to. Any idea what kind of plastic? Is there anything obviously growing on it? Fungi or algae?

Are birds eating it?

I suppose it could be leaching some chemical that is confusing the ants.

Forgot to say, I haven't seen birds eating it but sea birds often mistake plastic for food. There's at least one type of Albatross going extinct because they're feeding their young plastic which kills them. In this article it says krill feed on algae growing on the plastic which makes the plastic smell like food. Might be what's happening with the ants. I'm in the process of removing what's left.

How many birds die from plastic pollution? – WWF-Australia | How many birds die from plastic pollution? | WWF Australia
 

John53

I go leaps and bounds
Premium Member
Just photographed these on my corn plants. I'm guessing some kind of fly, only about 1.5mm long. Pretty cool looking when the camera magnifies them. There's some leaf damage where they're hanging around but I'm not sure if they're responsible.

DSCN8467.JPG
DSCN8469.JPG
 

Dan From Smithville

Monsters! Monsters from the id! Forbidden Planet
Staff member
Premium Member
Just photographed these on my corn plants. I'm guessing some kind of fly, only about 1.5mm long. Pretty cool looking when the camera magnifies them. There's some leaf damage where they're hanging around but I'm not sure if they're responsible.

View attachment 84339View attachment 84340
Frit flies. Also called grass flies. Family Chloropidae. I'm trying to figure out if they are pests of corn as larvae. Some species are pests of cereals according to the literature. That tiny squiggly spotting on the leave near the fly could be larval feeding or mining. I'm not sure from the photo. The holes with the translucent connection could be larger versions, but again, not sure.
 

Dan From Smithville

Monsters! Monsters from the id! Forbidden Planet
Staff member
Premium Member
Just photographed these on my corn plants. I'm guessing some kind of fly, only about 1.5mm long. Pretty cool looking when the camera magnifies them. There's some leaf damage where they're hanging around but I'm not sure if they're responsible.

View attachment 84339View attachment 84340
They are a rather attractive little fly. They shine a bit due to a near complete lack of hairs on the body surface.
 

Dan From Smithville

Monsters! Monsters from the id! Forbidden Planet
Staff member
Premium Member
I think I posted one of these before the new software and I think it was a cucumber beetle. They eat the zucchini leaves.

View attachment 84341
I recognize it as a leaf beetle in the family Chrysomelidae. It looks very similar to some species here in the US. I'm looking it up on Google now, but having trouble finding anything like it for your area. Finding a lot from the US based on the description, but nothing for Australia yet. Going to try "leaf beetles Australia" and see if I can picture key it.

Aulacophora hilaris I'm pretty sure. It is called the pumpkin beetle on the pages I found.

Pretty little beetle for being a pest. Of course that is my human bias.
 

exchemist

Veteran Member
I recognize it as a leaf beetle in the family Chrysomelidae. It looks very similar to some species here in the US. I'm looking it up on Google now, but having trouble finding anything like it for your area. Finding a lot from the US based on the description, but nothing for Australia yet. Going to try "leaf beetles Australia" and see if I can picture key it.

Aulacophora hilaris I'm pretty sure. It is called the pumpkin beetle on the pages I found.

Pretty little beetle for being a pest. Of course that is my human bias.
Reminds me: I struggle sometimes to control vine weevils in my plant pots, the grubs of which eat the roots of hydrangeas and actually killed one of them. These things are apparently all females and parthenogenetic. How does that work? One would think that failure to mix up the gene pool would eventually lead to failure to adapt and ultimately extinction.
 

Dan From Smithville

Monsters! Monsters from the id! Forbidden Planet
Staff member
Premium Member
Reminds me: I struggle sometimes to control vine weevils in my plant pots, the grubs of which eat the roots of hydrangeas and actually killed one of them. These things are apparently all females and parthenogenetic. How does that work? One would think that failure to mix up the gene pool would eventually lead to failure to adapt and ultimately extinction.
Parthenogenesis is fairly common in insects and apparently parthenogenic populations are derived through several different genetic mechanisms. I'm not an expert on the subject, but one mechanism I've read about is the low level production of males at a few per thousand individuals that can breed and produce viable offspring that continue the parthenogenic lineage.

Apparently, many of the species with parthenogenic populations have a high baseline population diversity that can overcome the lack of meiotic recombination seen with sexual species.

Your question appears to be a hot topic of research in genetics and evolution.
 

exchemist

Veteran Member
Parthenogenesis is fairly common in insects and apparently parthenogenic populations are derived through several different genetic mechanisms. I'm not an expert on the subject, but one mechanism I've read about is the low level production of males at a few per thousand individuals that can breed and produce viable offspring that continue the parthenogenic lineage.

Apparently, many of the species with parthenogenic populations have a high baseline population diversity that can overcome the lack of meiotic recombination seen with sexual species.

Your question appears to be a hot topic of research in genetics and evolution.
So from time to time there is some opportunity for gene scrambling, via these few males. I see.

But regarding the idea of baseline variation, would I be right to think then that the natural rate of mutation is sufficient to enable the population to adapt to variations in its environment? That's quite interesting, as I'd always thought the argument for sexual reproduction was it was essential to mix up the gene pool and prevent deleterious inbreeding mutations from accumulating.
 

John53

I go leaps and bounds
Premium Member
Part of a Scarab I found on the pool cover this morning. We call them christmas beetles but it covers a whole host of scarabs that are iridescent and are more prolific this time of year. They used to turn up in the thousands when I was a kid, all sizes from about 5mm to 50mm. Rarely see them these days.

Where have all the Christmas beetles gone?

DSCN8482.JPG
 

Dan From Smithville

Monsters! Monsters from the id! Forbidden Planet
Staff member
Premium Member
Part of a Scarab I found on the pool cover this morning. We call them christmas beetles but it covers a whole host of scarabs that are iridescent and are more prolific this time of year. They used to turn up in the thousands when I was a kid, all sizes from about 5mm to 50mm. Rarely see them these days.

Where have all the Christmas beetles gone?

View attachment 84519
Looks like something got ahold of it before it ended up in the pool. Or you have some pretty ravenous things living in the pool. For those overstaying their welcome I assume.
 
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