ALL "BUGS" ARE NOT TRUE BUGS
Presented by Bill Peachey
Kids that grew up in the post-WWII Phoenix area had easy access to extensive tracts of the surrounding Sonoran Desert to explore and learn about and many of them only became “civilized” well after they had already become confirmed “desert rats”! Bill Peachey was one of those lucky ones and was fortunate to have developed an all-consuming interest in desert “critters”(at that time...especially the arthropods!) that eventually led him to a lifetime of ecological studies facilitated through field science.
In the late 1990s having finished a nectar-feeding bat grant he turned a data gathering aspect of that grant into the beginning of the first detailed study of the bloom phenology of the saguaro cactus that continues today near the east end of Rincon Valley some 26 years later and 27 miles SE of downtown Tucson. At the time he had no idea just how “buggy” things were to become...
During the bat studies he had discovered a relationship between Pallid Bats & the Mesquite Bug. If you like “big” bugs - the Mesquite Bug is the one for YOU as, in its Family of the “Leaf-footed Bugs” that are “True Bugs”, it is the largest species found in N. America! In the mesquite covered bottomlands that are its most favorable habitat its adults can attain body lengths of 2 inches. The data collection about this bug spanned years and was a “portent” of things to come concerning “bugs” and cacti. If you have interest in the Mesquite Bug and its bat predator here is the link to the study that resulted: https://peerj.com/articles/6065
During the early 2000s Bill found out that there is a group within the Family of “Leaf-footed Bugs” called the “Cactus Bugs”. It contains several Genera that consist of a number of species. He was surprised to find that several of these take great delight in feeding on saguaros. And, he has determined over the past two years that presently just two species of these “Cactus Bugs” are, by far, the most numerous and so are probably doing the greatest amount of damage to our cacti.... The following presentation elaborates upon what is now known.
All of those who resided in Tucson through the 2021 Monsoon last year were both amazed and gratified that we received record rainfall during the month of July & that the 2021 Monsoon recorded the 3rd greatest amount of rain... ever!
Unfortunately, “plenty” is sometimes accompanied by negative attributes. So, this year we see extra ground-fire fuels from last summer 2021s growth of various “weedy” & non-weedy plants and, similarly, we have now received a “bumper crop” of several species of cactus-eating “True Bugs”! These insects are rarely responsible for killing our cactus garden specimens but, they leave unsightly scarring where they have fed and can damage stem tip growth points that can then cause deformed stems of not only native cactus species but also some of our larger showy non-native cactus species..... such as the Mexican Fence Post Cactus. In the presentation Bill will first discuss how to tell just what a “True Bug” is. Then, the talk will move on in order to identify the “culprit” bug species, describe where to look for them, relate indirect signs of their presence, and, finally, give a relatively easy and very effective way to rid your cacti of them...
A recipe herein, provided by Vonn Watkins, Vice President of TCSS, gives the directions for a “sure fire” bug-killing mixture. In one gallon of water add about a cup of each of these items, Dawn Ultra dish soap, Pine-Sol, 70% Isopropyl Alcohol and only about 2 tablespoons of Neem Oil. Use the mixture in a sprayer. Works great for Cochineal!
This will be followed by a very short explanation of this years saguaro bloom..... Vonn Watkins and Doug Rowsell have made Bill promise to limit himself to no more than 15,000 words!!!
If you have been fully vaccinated for Covid-19 you are welcome to come and join us for this excellent in person presentation (masks will be required by all). This meeting will also be a Zoom program and will be an important educational and informational event you must see. Also, if using Zoom, be sure to log in to win a $25.00 gift certificate from TCSS or choose a copy of the new 3rd edition of the Field Guide to Cacti & Other Succulents of Arizona. Plant give-a-ways will also be happening at the in person meeting as well. When leaving the live in person meeting, everyone can get a free plant offered to you by the TCSS.
Join us on Zoom https://bit.ly/tcssmm