As always, the yard is providing us with all manner of learning opportunities.
First, I've noticed as the fig trees have leafed out that one of them has lots of bulbous nodes, each shaped very similarly to, well, a fig. Having relatively little experience with figs, I hadn't really stopped to consider before how a fig flowers and develops its fruit. I assumed that these nodes were actually some kind of immature flower bud that bore a resemblance to the later fruit, and that would bloom sometime soon. Into a rather big flower. Had I ever seen a fig flower? What does a fig flower look like?
Certain that it would be a large white thing not unlike a zucchini blossom (?!?), I googled. And learned that those bumps on the branches actually are figs. And that figs are but false fruit. Slanderous! But true. Apparently each fig is a syconium - an inflorescence kindof turned inside-out, with the stem all around it on the outside. My figs, judging by their leaf shape, could be mission figs, but what I remember of the one ripe one left hanging on the tree the day of closing (unfortunately loaded with ants), the coloring of the ripe fruit is more like a brown turkey fig. Time will tell.
The first discovery was vegetable and the second is animal (perhaps we need a mineral one to round it out? I'm on it!). These funky bugs have been crawling all over the porch and plants. The kids were the first to notice them and called them to my attention. Reese and Xander wanted to pet them, but since I didn't know what they are, I asked them to hold off. Their appearance says "don't touch," don't you think?
...well, turns out you only have something to fear if you're a teeny garden pest. These fearsome creatures, known by some as "aphid lions", are ladybug larvae! Specifically, they seem to be the fourth and final instar form of Harmonia axyridis, the multicolored Asian lady beetle. Fierce, but not dangerous. Unless you're an aphid. Rawr.