Author Archives: Roberta

We have a lot of white threads around this week.

The threads are a type of silk.

Here's another patch of silk.

One patch of silk was made by the creature in the photograph above.

The other patch of silk was made by these creatures.

Can you tell which is which?

Why do you think the animals make silk? Do they both make it for the same reason(s)?

 

The rush milkweed is still flowering.

Every once in awhile a high-pitched sound travels through the air and one of these shows up.

If you are brave, get a bit closer.

It's a tarantula hawk wasp, an important pollinator of milkweeds. You can read more about how they do it in a previous post.

These wasps are big and noisy and clumsy.  They seem like flying dinosaurs. You can't miss them.

 

Not far away is a quiet little bee that you might easily miss.

Look at that long antenna.

The bees with antennae almost as long or longer than their bodies are commonly called long-horned bees. They are important pollinators of a number of plants, but their legs aren't long enough to pollinate the specialized milkweed flowers.

Still, they are just some of the many insects that benefit from milkweed flowers.

Did you guess the identities of the milkweed insects from last week?  Let's check.

  1. The yellow-orange insects on the stem are aphids. More specifically, they are the oleander aphid, Aphis nerii.  Hint:  Aphids are the ones with two "tailpipes" or cornicles on the back.

2. The red and black one insect might be hard to tell from this angle, but it is a true bug. A little one with two white dots in the wing is a small milkweed bug, Lygaeus kalmii.

3. This one was tough because the photograph isn't very close. It is an assassin bug, Zelus renardii. It is probably waiting for a bee or fly to capture.


4. I think everyone recognized the praying mantis. In this case, it is the Mediterranean mantis,  Iris oratoria. (See previous post).


5. This one is tricky. Cirrelda correctly recognized it is a lady beetle.


6.  The pale green oval at the end of the hairlike stalk is the egg of a lacewing. (Life cycle in previous post).


7. The cute striped caterpillar will turn into a monarch butterfly.

At this time of year, the butterfly will probably migrate farther north to lay its eggs on another milkweed plant.

We're glad it stopped by.