My journey as guardian to a loveliness of lady beetles started in preparation for a giving a Master Gardener talk on recognizing beneficial insects in the home garden. Five minutes before leaving home, I still needed a live lady beetle or two as little living props. Lady beetles are always hanging around the yarrow (achillea millefolium island pink). In short order I had two different species in a mason jar and as an added bonus collected a clutch of lady beetle eggs on a twig. For the uninitiated, lady beetle eggs are a translucent rich golden yellow, shaped like the smallest of chicken eggs, and glued standing on end in tightly packed clutches of 50 or more.
After the presentation I released the adults back into the wild, but decided to hold on to the eggs in order to get a good photo using the digital microscope at the office. A shallow mason jar covered with organza* and then a canning ring made a safe temporary home. Two days later when I pulled the jar out for the photos shoot, I was dismayed to find that the lovely eggs had changed color to a pale olive green. Had I killed them?
Under the microscope the truth was revealed: they were hatching!
*Why organza? It allows air flow, is very sheer, and is a much finer mesh than window screen. As a synthetic, it is easy to clean. Plus, I had some on hand in an appropriate shade of pale pink.
To be continued.