Did you guess the identities of the milkweed insects from last week? Let's check.
- 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.
Nature can be full of drama.
We've had a Mediterranean mantis, Iris oratoria, on the rush milkweeds for a few weeks. Today it caught a paper wasp, Polistes flavus.
You can see the wasp better in this view.
At one point the mantis removed the wasp's wing and dropped it. Wings apparently aren't edible.
Soon another insect joined the party.
A tiny black fly began walking on the wasp and mantis.
It might seem like the fly was incidental, but it isn't. Small black flies of the family Milichiidae are known to steal food from predatory insects and spiders. It is a behavior known as kleptoparasitism.
Being a freeloader that steals food from a predatory insect seems like it might be a dangerous lifestyle, but the mantis seems occupied with the wasp and is not reacting to the fly.
See more about the flies at Milichiddae Online and What's That Bug?
Have you ever spotted a freeloader fly?