Thistle Community

I usually have at least one thistle that makes it to a good size. In 2015 this monster grew and grew in my north garden, near the tiger lilies and other less attractive things. It branched a lot, probably because of the number of Entylia carinata treehoppers. By the end of the season, this plant had produced many many seeds before the carinatas killed it. A while before this huge plant died, the treehoppers were moving away, and I expect to find them on other thistles this year. (There are 3 or 4 young thistles now in spring of 2016.) Notice the attendant ants, in a similar relationship to the one between redbud and its treehoppers.

Many other insects frequented the giant thistle. This Fork-tailed Bush Katydid nymph (picture taken in July 2015) fed on it - it disappeared until later in the summer. For reference, here is one on a zinnia plant. You can see the face, which looks as if it has just lathered up for a shave. The last is an adult female (look at her scimitar-like ovipositor!), found a few weeks later on a vine adjacent to the thistle.

Bees also love the thistle flowers. Here is a female green sweat bee in 2014. This next is just one of my favorite images - the bee with the hairy eyeball. Last is a mason bee, a super pollinator. They collect pollen on their underbellies, not their legs. Too bad they don't make hives with honey!