Large Milkweed Bugs

You know it’s not been a good butterfly year

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if only 4 or 5 of them visit the butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa).

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I went outside in the afternoon and found four milkweed bugs on my small patch of the butterfly weed.

I took all these pictures between August 20 and September 18 last summer … and  am obviously late posting the blog. I’ll be surprised if I see any monarchs laying eggs or find any of their caterpillars.

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These young ones were the nymphs of large milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus). The dark spot in the upper right side of the seedpod was a hole where the nymphs entered to feed.

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The nymphs fed on the insides of the seeds in the seedpods.  Their size and pattern differentiated the ages.

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Lunch time. There were three seedpods on the common milkweed plant (Asclepias sryiaca).

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They continued growing. Then I went out one afternoon, and there was one that had just molted.

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I went out every fifteen minutes to watch the progress in this and the following two pictures. The faint wing colors surprised me.

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The wings continued to slowly darken. Notice how it used a hind leg to hold the wing in place as it dried.

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The wing still wasn’t quite dry.

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The few remaining milkweed bugs were gone in two or three days.

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The common milkweed is a perennial. This common milkweed is the same one as in the pictures above. Obviously, there have been no insect visitors so far this summer.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Too technical for me but I’m learning slowly.

    Reply

  2. Interesting. I’ve seen the adults but not the other growth stages. It must have been fascinating to watch.

    Reply

  3. Posted by nema rydel on August 17, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Thanks for the info. Good to be able to recognize the harmful bugs . I understand
    the Monarch population is really dwindling, one reason being loss of habitat from
    overdevelopment, so those that remain need all the help we can give.

    I watched a tv special about efforts of a person who was studying and tracking the
    monarchs.

    Since their diet is so specific the milk weed plants are vital. I believe I found a web
    site where you can order seeds. I could try to find it again if you felt it would be
    helpful for your readers.

    Nema

    Reply

    • I’ve tried to raise them from seed. It didn’t work. Having flowers blooming when the monarchs are migrating will attract them.Nectar sources help them on their migration too.

      Reply

  4. I love the way you followed the progression of the Milkweed bugs.

    Reply

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