Lacewing Eggs!

I noticed these odd little eggs laid in a row on my Neoregelia 'Fireball' bromeliad, and wondered what they might be.  Fortunately, they were simple to google and it turns out they are lacewing eggs!  Lacewings are beneficial insects in their larval form and are pretty much neutral in their adult stage, so I'm very happy they want to reproduce in my space and protect my plants from aphids, mealybugs, and hopefully even scale.  I've been fighting with mealybugs in several of my stapeliads and a couple other plants and scale on one of my haworthias - I think due in part to stress and lowered immunity from spending so long indoors thanks to the unusually cold April we had (the coldest in 20 years!), so this might be just the ticket to getting rid of the rest of the pests.  The Neoregelia 'Fireball' spends the summer on my front porch, but when I went to my back porch I also saw a lone lacewing egg on an Adromischus (A. rupicola is my guess, but there are a number of similar species within Adromischus and my plant supplier didn't have this one labeled and is wrong on labels around 15% of the time anyway!).  So that bodes well for lacewings frequenting both sides of my plant collection!

Some people even purchase bulk lacewing eggs (or adult lacewings with the goal of having them stick around to reproduce) as pest control, much like they do with ladybugs and other beneficial insects.  This practice of purchasing insects for natural pest control is more complicated than it might seem, though, since it can negatively disrupt the local ecosystem, and often disregards seasonal timing needs for the purchased insects and the insects' preferred habitats.  It's better if you can just encourage the beneficial insects already living in your area to feel welcome in your spaces.

Blooming Cacti

I've had a few cacti blooming lately - my Rhipsalis pilocarpa, Schlumbergera truncata, and one of my two Gymnocalycium friedrichii.  Here are some images of the beauty!  Unfortunately I don't have a good photo of the Gymno because its bloom was infested with aphids - in spraying it with neem oil, the aphids have died but the bloom is also not doing so hot.   I'll get a photo to share at some point, though!

 Interesting things to note about the below two plants: the R. pilocarpa flowers apparently have little scent but what there is smells like a musty basement; the S. truncata is a very difficult plant for me to grow and this is the first time I've gotten one to flower; the S. truncata was purchased on sale without flowers and I did not know it had two different bloom colors.

Aphids Are Born Pregnant (Unless They're Not Born At All...)

Did you know that most aphids are born pregnant?  I was thinking about this odd fact since my sempervivum collection (colloquially known as Hen and Chicks) had an aphid infestation due in part to the unusually wet late spring here in Kansas.  Luckily, neem oil has so far discouraged the little ladies from successfully hatching their next two generations.  Below is a close-up of one the several sempervivum species I'm keeping in a rail planter on my porch.