September 2, 2012
Trail from White Wolf to Lukens Lake
While walking the trail to Lukens Lake and trying to key out some purple flowers in the Aster family (there are a lot of species that look very similar and they are difficult to distinguish from one another), I noticed that the flower stalk of one was covered with tiny green aphids (photo on left). Aphids dine on the vascular juices of plants. A mile or so down the trail, a small red spot caught my eye on a purple aster that was a bit beyond its prime…a convergent lady beetle (photo on right)! Convergent lady beetles dine on aphids, though I didn't see any aphids near this particular beetle. They are the most common "ladybug" in the United states but they got their name for their habit of congregating by the thousands in places like the Sierra Nevada high country for a long hibernation (up to nine months)! I didn't see any other lady beetles along the trail today and this is the first one I've noticed on my weekly walks of this trail this season.