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Appreciating the little things

Studying aphids on Echinacea requires looking much more closely than I would otherwise. Sure enough, the closer I look the more I see. Here are just a few of my discoveries (namely the ones I’ve made since learning how to make my phone take macro photos):

I’m assessing survival of aphids on different Echinacea species and hybrids in P7, an experimental plot at Hegg Lake. I also checked for aphids on the non-native E. pallida growing in a nearby restoration. As I expected, I didn’t find any Aphis echinaceae, but I did find this much larger phloem-feeder.
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A nearby E. angustifolia didn’t have Aphis echinaceae either, but it did have ants tending a flock of a different species of insect.IMG_7932_2.JPG

One week after the first aphid addition, two of the plants in my experiment had this little gray thing on them (but no aphids). It seems to be an exoskeleton. I wonder if it belonged to the aphids or something else?
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Gretel and I found this winged adult surrounded by “white fuzzies” (the technical term we use in our records) on a plant in P1 today. The leaf they were on looked diseased, with lighter coloring overall and purple venation.
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Finally, here are some ants tending a humongous herd of generalist aphids on a thistle. A dowry fit for any ant princess!
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