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Laboratory Report

Articles: Laboratory Report

Captured Insect Tourists Help Avert Herbivory

Insectivorous plants are apparently not the only type of plant that benefits from insect passers-by.  Insects ensnared in sticky or hook-like hairs on leaf and stem surfaces may feed and help build populations of predatory insects that protect the host plant from herbivorous insects. Most studies of beneficial insect populations don’t consider insect carrion as a food source for beneficial predators, but it may represent a significant contribution to the food web. Perhaps it is no accident that plants catch insects for this purpose.  A simple field study using native annual tarweed (Madia elegans) was conducted at a nature reserve site near UC Davis. Dead fruit flies were placed on 41 test plants each week, with no flies placed on an equal number of control plants. Predatory insects were counted regularly on each plant. A dramatic increase in the numbers of predatory insects was found on the plants with the insect carrion. Consequently, there were fewer caterpillar pests to feed on the floral buds, and the tarweed was able to produce more seeds.

Nature 492, 314–315

 

Subsurface Water Retention Technology

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Articles: Calochortophilia: A Californian’s Love Affair with a Genus by Katherine Renz

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