Sparkle and Shine!

Oct 25, 2013

Poet Gertrude Stein, who coined "A rose is a rose is a rose," probably would have liked it.

Julia Child, maybe not.

We purchased a "Sparkle and Shine" yellow rose, related to the Julia Child Rose, last May at the rose sale sponsored by the California Center for Urban Horticulture, University of California, Davis. It's drawing quite a bit of attention from insects in our yard.

And not just from honey bees, earwigs and spottted cucumber beetles.

From flies.

We recently spotted this drone fly (Eristalis tenax) foraging among the blossoms. Startled by the camera movement, it kept flying off, only to return within seconds. 

At first glance, non-entomologists would probably identify it as a honey bee. It's a floral visitor, right?

Right. But not all floral visitors are flies, and not all pollination involves bees. 

Wikipedia says that in its natural habitat, the drone fly "is more of a curiosity than a problem, and the adults are benficial pollinators."

It's the larva, the red-tailed maggot, that makes some people shudder. The larvae, as Wikipedia says, live "in drainage ditches, pools around manure piles, sewage, and similar places containing water badly polluted with organic matter."

So from a pool around a manure pile to a beautiful Sparkle and Shine yellow rose. Who would have thought?