Once you've seen a leaffooted bug (genus Leptoglossus), you'll never forget it.
If you look closely, you'll see a leaflike structure on each hind leg.
It's especially noticeable when the bug is on a brightly colored tomato or pomegranate.
Lately we've been seeing a lot of leaffooted bugs on our tomatoes. They're Leptoglossus phyllopus, as identified by senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. The bugs emerge in the early morning for a few hours and then, moving quite sluggishly, disappear among the leaves, only to make their presence known late in the evening and early the next morning.
They're pests of many fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and ornamentals, but they're so unusual looking that they draw the attention of photographers and other curious folks. It's camouflage at its best--except when they're on ripe red tomatoes and pomegranates. Then it's as if they're wearing neon.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) Program has this to say about leaffooted bugs on almonds:
"The leaffooted bug is an infrequent pest in almonds that gets its name from the small, leaflike enlargements found on the hind legs of the large nymphs and adults. Adult bugs are about 1 inch long and have a narrow brown body with a yellow or white zigzag line across its flattened back. Adult females lay eggs in strands of usually 10 to 15 eggs that are often found on the sides of nuts in almonds. Eggs hatch into small nymphs that resemble newly hatched assassin bugs."
Also read what UC IPM has to say about leaffooted bugs on pomegranates and several species: Leptoglossus clypealis, L. occidentalis, and L. zonatus.
What a match--honey bees and pomegranate blossoms.
Watching the golden bees forage amid the brilliant red blossoms in the late afternoon is a delight to see, especially when the sun backlights them.
The ancient fruit, native to Iran, is one of the world's first cultivated fruits. Thankfully, it is now "trendy" in California, with some 30,000 acres of pomegranates in production. We treasure its ruby-red kernels, tart flavor, and high antioxidant content. Since ancient times, the fruit has symbolized health and fertility. It's been said that Adam and Eve weren't tempted by an apple in the Garden of Eden, but by a pomegranate. In Egypt, the pomegranate was known as "The Fruit of Kings."
Spanish settlers introduced the pomegranate tree to California in 1769. The honey bees came later: 1853.
But when you think about it, honey bees and pomegranates have been together for millions of years--just not in California.
The pomegranate tree in our yard is 86 years old and has seen generations of bees come and go.
A promenade in the pomegranates...
President Obama just pardoned a couple of turkeys--Apple and Cider. They won't make it to the White House Thanksgiving dinner today.
But what he could have done--when he was pardoning the turkeys--was to praise the honey bees.
Without honey bees, Thanksgiving Day dinner--as we know it--would not exist.
It's time to "bee" thankful.
If your table includes pumpkin, cranberries, carrots, cucumbers, onions, apples, oranges, cherries, blueberries, grapefruit, persimmons, pomegranates, pears, sunflower seeds, and almonds, thank the bees for their pollination services.
Spices? Thank the bees, too. Bees visit the plants that eventually comprise our spices, including sage, basil, oregano and thyme.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, says that even milk and ice cream are linked closely to the honey bee. Cows feed on alfalfa, which is pollinated by honey bees (along with other bees).
So, pardon the turkeys? Well, at least "Apple" and "Cider." But let's praise the honey bees, too.
“You’re not going to be able to jump on the pomegranate bandwagon with your pockets bulging with gold without a lot of hard work,” Kevin Day, farm advisor with UC Cooperative Extension Tulare County, told a reporter for a news story published May 14 in the Western Farm Press.
Yes, hard work.
Day told Western Farm Press that from 2006 to 2009, the number of acres in California planted with pomegranate trees "has increased from 12,000 or 15,000 acres in 2006, to 29,000 acres in 2009."
“We’ve doubled in three years, and that’s a lot of young pomegranate trees,” he said.
And that's a lot of work for the honey bees, too.
Our "orchard" of one pomegranate tree is buzzing with bees.
Just when we thought they'd forgotten their old buddy--"old" because the pomegranate tree was planted in 1927--here they come in the late afternoon. One by one, two by two, they head for the blossoms to gather the nectar and roll in the pollen of the papery blossoms.
Gold may bulge from the pockets of pomegranate orchardists, but a different kind of gold bulges from the honey bees--pollen.
If you love pomegranates, you can thank a honey bee.
If you love capturing images of pomegranates, you can thank a honey bee.
And, if you love juicing them and making pomegranate jelly—as I do—you can thank a honey bee.
The honey bee makes it all possible.
In mid-May, our 81-year old pomegranate tree blossomed. The silky red blossoms drew dozens of bees. On May 26, armed with a macro lens, I photographed them gathering nectar and pollen.
The blossoms, like the bees, quickly vanished. Worker bees live only four to six weeks during the busy season. The blossoms dropped and fruit formed. Today, four months later, the harvest-ready fruit glistens with red jewels. More photo ops!
The tree is truly amazing. It's 81 years old and yields six to seven orchard boxes of fruit each year. How can we be certain of its age? It was planted in 1927, the same year our Spanish stucco home was built. The owners planted a pomegranate tree because “our daughter loved them.”
So do the bees.