Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Prickly Pears In My Yard

One of the things I love about my yard is the great variety of local plants, including a number of cactus. The past few years, however, many of my prickly pears have been attacked by mealybugs. They have entirely killed some clumps, and earlier this year they were looking voracious, abetted by rabbits that were quite willing to munch through the spears and glochids (the tiny, almost unseeable, prickles that you can't get out of your fingers).

But the cactus are coming back with blooms and new growth. I have at least three kinds of prickly pear native to the yard and have added other kinds that aren't but are resistant to frost. The mealybugs seem particularly to like the smallest, spiniest variety.

Here are some photos (mealybugs first):

The white things are the mealybugs, sucking the juices out of the cactus. But this one is making a flower anyway. Or perhaps in desperation of making seeds as it succumbs. All of the infected cactuses, though, look healthier today than they have been. We had a tiny bit of rain last night, which may have helped.

The upper left-hand corner is a rabbit munch. Don't know how they do it!

And here's a beavertail prickly pear (Opuntia basilaris) that I planted, doing what I want it to do: stopping erosion. Those pads are very good at that!

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