insects

So, what do you bring with you to pick blueberries?

Of course you need your hat and buckets.

But you also might want your camera.

Why?

You might need to take a few photographs of the blueberries to remember the day.

You also might want to take a photograph of some newly-hatched shield bug nymphs.

 

Take a close look at the one on the bottom. It still has the circular lid of its egg stuck to it.

The nymphs look like they are too big to fit in those egg shells, don't they?

What insects have you found in a blueberry patch?

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Thank you to Justin for holding the leaf upside down so I could take the photograph.

 

We have shown photographs of assassin bugs before, but let's learn more about them.

(Assassin Bug Egg Mass by Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology)

Assassin bugs start out as eggs like the ones above.

The eggs hatch into colorful nymphs. They are small at first.

Assassin bugs often are found sitting on flowers lying in wait for other insects to visit. If another insect, such as a fly, caterpillar or leafhopper, comes into reach the assassin bug will capture it and feed on it. Assassin bugs are true bugs, which means their mouthparts are straw-like beaks that are usually tucked under their heads.

As it feeds and molts, the nymph becomes larger. This individual is almost an adult. You can tell by the size of the wing pads on the back of the thorax.

This is an adult assassin bug. Look how its color has changed, such as the legs have gone from spotted to solid green. Now its wings are red and cover the back of the abdomen. If you look really close, you may be able to see its beak curving under its head.

Look at those long antennae. That's one way it senses its food. It also uses its long front legs.

Assassin bugs like these are members of the genus Zelus. They are common throughout North America.

Have you ever seen an assassin bug like this?

We have some new insects on the elephant food plant in the back yard.

They are oval and covered with white wax. Do you know what they are?

These rover ants know what the white insects are:  a source of honeydew. The ants will defend the white insects and move them around to better sources of food.

The white insects are mealybugs. The two under the ant have just molted, shedding their waxy coats. Can you see the shed exoskeletons towards the lower end of the pile (they are open at the back)? Seems likely the mealybugs are most vulnerable right after molting.

Have you ever watched ants tending mealybugs?