Life In A Dying Tomato Plant

x6 images. Double click to enlarge.

It is end of season for the tomato plant my neighbour had kindly given me in a hanging basket. It had been bountiful in fruit, but it was it now in its last days as autumn approaches, and I had the thought to look more closely at it before dropping it in the recyling bin.

Cartodere bifasciata

I have never seen a member of this family of beetles before. Latridiidae are known as ‘scavanger’ or ‘mould beetles’. This one is very small at 2 mm (5/64 in) long, and is called Cartodere bifasciata. It feeds on spores and moulds found on rotting plant materials.

Empoasca decipiens
Possible Empoasca decipiens nymph

There were several of these green leafhoppers, adults and possible larvae. Called Empoasca decipiens, one of 3 very similar UK species, they extract sap from the plant on which they feed.

Parasitised Aphid – possibly Aphelinus mummy

Like a scene from the film Alien, I discovered the dead remains of this wingless aphid. You can’t miss the obvious hole in the abdomen where something … probably a braconid wasp … burst out.

Peach-potato Aphid Myzus (Nectarosiphon) persicae

We have a live aphid here … most likely the Peach-potato Aphid (Myzus (Nectarosiphon) persicae). The apterae (lacking wings) are generally yellowish-green but vary from whitish or pale yellowish green to mid-green, rose-pink or red. They are often darker in cold conditions.

Parasitised Aphid

Another parasitised aphid all tethered … which goes to show that nature has a way of keeping the equilibrium.

I also spotted several running-crab spiders and money spiders … but all too quick and unwilling to hang around for a photo shoot. So even within its death throws a plant can still support so much life … and just focusing the mind and the eyes on a different plane can open up so much.

13 thoughts on “Life In A Dying Tomato Plant

  1. Oddly, your photo gallery brought to mind an article I read some time ago. It offered a scientific commentary on a childhood verse you may have heard: “the worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout…” The point of the article was that it would be far more likely for beetles and such to feast on our remains, and this certainly adds a bit of evidence to that hypothesis!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. All the little things we miss by not looking closely enough… Also, making a note to get a hanging tomato plant which the raccoons can’t reach! Great idea… thanks! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your parasitized insects reminded me of a fly I came across many years ago. It had strands growing out of it and I discovered that it was being attacked by a fungus, Cordyceps sp. Here is an example if your haven’t already seen it.

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      1. I see the video now … it doesn’t show up in the notifications but on the blog itseslf 🙂 Fascinating and quite horrendous how nature goes about business at times. An amazing video … thanks, Steve!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Glad that it showed itself. Yeah, I try not to think what would happen to me if I died in the woods and wasn’t found for a while. It’s natural and everything has its place in the ecological processes but … 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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