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Did you identify the insects we found on common milkweed?

A. The beetles are red milkweed beetles, Tetraopes tetrophthalmus. They are a type of longhorned beetle.

The bright red and black adults are easy to spot. They make a squeaking sound if they are captured.

The larvae are not as easy to find. They feed on the roots of milkweed plants under the soil.

B. This is a Baltimore checkerspot butterfly. Do you see the orange tips on its antennae?

The caterpillars are orange and black as well.

The Baltimore checkerspot larvae do not feed on milkweeds. They eat other wildflowers, like hairy beardtongue (Penstemon hirsutus), and English plantain (Plantago lanceolata).

Have you ever seen these insects?

 

 

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)?

 

2

Sometimes simply adding one plant to your yard can attract new insects. This week our Mexican hat or prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) is flowering.

mexican-hat-flower354

Look at all the bugs enjoying the blooms.

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Of course you would expect to see bees visiting flowers.

pollen-coated-bee_0323

This bee was collecting loads of pollen.

beetle-0290Also visiting the flowers were beetles,

lacebug-0311lace bugs,

looper-caterpillar-231and a looper or geometrid caterpillar. Actually, there are two caterpillars in this photograph. Look down and to the left.

tiny-caterpillar-in-focus242Maybe you can see it better in this photograph. It looks like a thread of white on the edge of the petal towards the bottom. It is a first instar or newly-hatched caterpillar.

crab-spider-plus0307Wherever there are bugs feeding on plants, there are predators like this crab spider ready to feed on the bugs.