Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Anthurium no. 0544 "Ida Claire Warren"

Ida was sort of pretty when she first opened her spathe:

Time and thrips have had their way with her, though. This photo is from four days after the first:

And by now, about a month later, the pink is mostly gone, due to whatever pink-bleaching process happens with the pink Anthurium seedlings, so she's just kind of a dull barely pinkish white with a bunch of scarring. Plus the bloom is really tiny. And the spathe is flipped back.

The leaves aren't bad, though:

And the plant as a whole is decent, if small.

So Ida could be worse. She's yet another seedling upon which I am reserving judgment, until I see a few more blooms.

But what I really want to talk about is the taping process, which I told you about a couple days ago.

It's been sort of a rollercoaster of emotions so far. Initially, I was very excited about it -- look how many thrips I'm getting! And most of these I would never have been able to hand-squish -- would never have known to hand-squish -- so I must be really accomplishing something! Go me!

Then the realization that there were pests everywhere, including a lot more scale insects than I would ever have guessed were still around, which was super-depressing: how could I ever have thought that I could get things under control? Look how many there are! And these are only the basement plants -- even if, by some miracle of miracles, I could eliminate all the scale and thrips from the basement, there are others in other parts of the house: I'd wind up re-infesting everything. Why even try?

And then I saw a few mite-looking things here and there, including one especially memorable light brown mite that had, to all appearances, been squished as I put down the tape, and vomited up something yellow in the process. And . . . the thrips are yellow. So . . . OMG, that was probably a predator mite! They're still here! They weren't all dead! Maybe that wasn't a total waste of money after all!

But wait -- even if some of the predator mites survived, I'm going to be killing them with the tape. Maybe the taping is a bad idea.

But look how many baby scale! And you'd given up on the predator mites already anyway!

Yeah, but look how widespread the baby scale! And surely it's better to be doing something, than to be passively waiting for the predator mites to get in gear?

Yes, but doing something is so tedious. And it can't even work.

Yikes! What is that shiny dark brown thing? It's not a mite. Is it a baby spider? How on earth is it managing to crawl across the sticky side of adhesive tape that quickly?


So I can't really say that it's going well, or going poorly. Things are happening. Thrips and scale are being killed. I'm more certain now, based on what I'm pulling up with the tape, and where, that the distorted Anthurium leaves I see a lot around here (examples: 0415 "Darby Dragons", 0416 "Holy McGrail") are caused by thrips and/or scale. My theory is that thrips aren't strong enough to chew holes in the mature Anthurium leaves, only in the thinner, weaker developing leaves. So if a thrips kills a patch on a developing leaf, the rest of the leaf continues to grow around it, the dead patch which is no longer growing causes the rest of the leaf to pucker around it, and (depending on where and when the thrips attack), you wind up with cupped leaves, weird bumps in the leaves, or sickle-shaped leaves. Scale probably can do something similar, except that they probably don't do it as often -- they can eat older leaves just fine, so they wouldn't have to focus so much on developing ones.

This doesn't explain why the plants seem to grow out of the distorted leaves as they get older and bloom -- maybe the blooms are more attractive and easier to eat, so once a plant has bloomed, the thrips tend to leave the new leaves alone and concentrate on the pollen and spathes instead? Or maybe the new leaves get more difficult to eat, somehow, as the plant gets larger?

Many things yet to learn. And oh, how I wish I could share pictures with you from the microscope, because I occasionally see some incredible things: big mother scale insects full of eggs, thrips flailing their legs wildly while upside-down on the tape, tiny red-eyed baby thrips, weird two-lobed objects I've decided must be the dead true flowers of Anthuriums, round yellow globes that are probably thrips eggs, the oddly-textured brown objects that I think might be layers of Anthurium scar tissue, possible predator mite corpses, oddly geometric vermiculite dust, etc. I've managed occasional microscope photos in the past, but I have to snap a lot of pictures in order to get a usable one, and the process takes forever. But I'll work on it.

1 comment:

Ivynettle said...

It sounds really fascinating! Sort of makes me wish I hadn't given away the microscope I had as a child, but then I'm also scared of what I would find on my plants. Probably better not to know.