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Living with Pests, plus bonus barrel blossoms

After our latest monsoon event, the yard was freshly rinsed and all dampy.  Everything was making the most of the moist: the succulents were sucking up water, the trees were drinking and dripping, and the whole world was washed in that most deserty perfume of creosote.

caclonghornAlso, the Cactus Longhorn Beetle came out.  Here is its picture, on a “Bunnyears” prickly pear (Opuntia macrodasys).

From a horticultural point of view, the cactus longhorn beetle (Moneilema gigas) is a serious pest: its eggs hatch into larvae which bore into the tissue of cactus, especially Opuntia, and the adults are happy to munch on tender growing edges of cactus pads.  The boring larvae exude their waste as an unsightly tarry goo on the cactus outside their boreholes, and their tunneling can be fatal to susceptible individual plants; the damage gnawing adults do to pads can alter an even growth pattern in new leaves.  So, many desert gardening sites recommend the barbaric “Insta-stomp” approach to relating to this large beetle. (They’re flightless and are easily captured.)

E took pictures of this adult, possibly just eclosed after the monsoon rain, and we left it to trundle off, having admired its long “horns” with the white “elbows” on them.  Stomping just didn’t seem like a viable alternative — frankly, I don’t know if flip-flops are up to the task of exterminating such a robustly-crusted arthropod (note the mediaeval spines around its thorax). Anyway, there’s plenty of Bunny Ears to go around.

Bonus Monsoon cactus flowersF-herrerae-flowers

Most Sonoran desert plants bloom in spring after the winter rainy season, but there are many that take advantage of the Monsoon rains, and bloom in late summer and early fall.  This barrel cactus in our yard, a Ferocactus herrerae, is currently putting on an extravagant floral display.

(Both photos E. Shock)

Posted by Allison on Sep 12th 2009 05:52 pm | 3 Comments
| View close in,cool bug!,Invertebrata,natural history,yard list category

3 Responses to “Living with Pests, plus bonus barrel blossoms”

  1. Ravickon 13 Mar 2010 at 11:57 am link comment

    Beautifull! I wouldn’t kill the beetle (cerambicideae?), I like animals to interact with my sucullents, most of the times the plant, the insect and some kind of predator can live together in my sucullents pots. But, of courso, nothing that big!

    Gonna link this picture on my website! It is just great!

  2. Daphne Worshamon 28 May 2011 at 6:01 am link comment

    Hey thanks for the really helpful post and description. I was just looking up the beast that I found on my prickly pear and you’ve done all the research for me! Great photo by the way. I implemented your recommended method of control, the “Insta-stomp”, when I saw the chunks the critter had eaten over night. I love insects, think they are fascinating, but I guess I love my cactus more.

  3. Allisonon 28 May 2011 at 10:39 am link comment

    Yes, well, I believe “insta-stomp” is the time-honored tradition among most gardeners!

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