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I must admit I wasn't optimistic I would find much in our yard on January 3. It has been cold in the morning and insects aren't usually active when it's cold.

Wait. What's that tiny green thing?

It's a little praying mantis.

There's something in the brittlebush flower.

That's a crab spider with some prey.

What is this?

Although they look a bit like honey bees, these are flies. I didn't get a clear look, but probably flower flies in the family Syrphidae.

Not to shabby for a winter day.

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.

It was a bit cold, cloudy and rainy over the weekend, so I wasn't expecting to find any insects. But there it was.

A praying mantis, bold as can be.

Isn't it interesting how the pink shades on its thorax match the pink flower buds of the fairy duster plant it's resting on?

The cold weather was probably making it sluggish, because it did not move when I ran to get my camera or the whole time I was taking photographs.

Perhaps it is wishing for warmer days.