Bug of the Week

Insect common names are sometimes misleading.

yellow-bodied-whitefly-11

Take this tiny whitefly, for example. It isn't really a fly (not family Diptera). Instead it belongs to the same family as aphids and scale insects.

It also isn't really white.

whitefly-side(A one-sixteenth-inch long Silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii. Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS)

If you could see under a microscope for a view like this, you would notice the body of the whitefly is actually yellow, almost the same color as the petal of the desert marigold flower the one at the top is sitting on.

Where does the whitefly get its name? Its body and wings are covered with a powdery coating of white wax particles. The wax probably helps protect it from water and predators.

Now you know more about whiteflies, what would you have named them?

 

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Even though it's November, we still have butterflies in our yard.  white-butterfly-light-on-wings_0243The rosemary is flowering, and it attracted this white butterfly.

white-butterfly_0271The butterfly spent several minutes visiting the flowers, probing or feeding in each one.

white-butterfly-sideAren't the stripy antennae with the yellow tips fun?

Taking a few minutes, it is possible to see even more butterflies. A duskywing skipper was on the same rosemary plant at the same time as this white, and tiny blue butterflies were fluttering around a nearby fairy duster. Queen and monarch butterflies commonly visit our milkweeds, and giant swallowtails glide by the citrus trees in the back. The snout butterflies and painted ladies seem to prefer the puff-ball flowers on the willow acacia.

In fact there's no need to visit a butterfly exhibit because, with the proper flowering plants, the butterflies come to us.

For more information, see our previous posts during butterfly gardening with children week.

butterfly-gardening-with-children

Five great nectar plants for butterflies

Growing list of children's books about moths and butterflies

moth-and-butterfly-books-for-children-list

 

Remember we had adult monarch butterflies flying last week?

Well, look what they left behind.

monarch-caterpillar-face-on-245Wait, what's that?

monarch-caterpillar-233Hungry, hungry monarch caterpillars is what they left.

We've noticed the caterpillars usually feed on the flower buds rather than other parts of the rush milkweed.

Photograph taken 10/11/2016.

See a previous post for more about caterpillars found on rush milkweed plants.

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