From the corner of the eye a speck of red peeks the curiosity. Walking through the tall grasses to get a better view, there sporting a shiny red coat, is a tiny lily leaf beetle (Liloceris lilii) sitting in stillness on edge of an air potato leaf. Admiring its handiwork or is it taking a break before continuing onward with its ravenous appetite for the air potato vines that encase the alley foliage?
Genetically designed this is a beetle with a purpose and is commonly released to combat the air potato vine not destroying any other crops along the way. I beg to differ for I find what appears to be an exact insect artistry pattern of destruction on my Turks Cap not too terribly far from the potato vine.
Despite being an invasive vine growing up to eight inches a day and known to be quite a nuisance the air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) does provide a beautiful dark green and glossy, almost heart-shaped canvas for the tiny lily leaf beetle. However long it takes for this fellow and his buddies to rape the integral part of the stem system I have to say, when taking a closer look, what remains is quite the artistry.
Once the devoured leaves begin to brown and death of the that particular potato vine nears. There in nature’s wonder is the artful beauty found in the leaf remains, web like in pattern and delicately lace like. Fascinated by nature time and time again. Now if I can only confirm the culprit eating the leaves of my Turks Cap.