Dog walking is a great way to meet people. Dog walkers, like cricketers and gardeners, are generally good eggs and a quick natter whilst the dogs sniff, wag and chase is a relaxing way to pass a few minutes. Usually it’s the weather, the conditions underfoot or probing the behaviour and backgrounds of our respective dogs but every so often talk gets more serious and veers onto whether Arsene Wenger should go or the pros and cons of T20.
But yesterday was different. For a start I was in the garden, the dog was asleep and the grass desperately needed mowing. But encouraged by my daily prattle with my doggy pals and slightly concerned that a couple of walkers the other side of our beech hedge might be digging up the primroses (last year I had to severely reprimand some loon who was gouging out an aquilegia from our verge) I gently enquired about their intentions. ‘Don’t worry’ said Bob, ‘we’re on the look-out for aphids and it seems you’ve got some unusual ones on this vetch.’ ‘And I’ve got some good shots of them too’, said Bob (not the same Bob).
Apparently there are over 600 species of aphid in Britain. Not many people know that. But Bob and Bob do and they are amongst the leading experts on the subject in the world, where there are over 4400 species. Not many people know that either. If you look on their website http://influentialpoints.com you'll learn about horseflies, ticks, lice, mossies and midges as well and even more about Bob and Bob and the things they study. Like, for example, Tsetse control in East Africa, Trypanosomiasis - where are we now? and How to avoid and detect statistical malpractice.
But back to aphids: here’s a charming photo Bob took of a mother Macrosiphum Euphorbiae and two of her many babies on a lime leaf in our greenhouse. You may be interested to know she gave birth live, that she needed no help from her male partner and her common name is Mrs Potato Aphid.
If you can’t wait to know more about aphids do have a peep at the Bobs’ website. It’s about the most comprehensive, academic and unexpectedly fascinating site I’ve ever found. However, after last year’s obsession with butterflies I think I’ve learnt my lesson and had better stick with mowing, weeding and musing. (Or else, says Rosie.)