Posts Tagged ‘aphids’

Something’s Missing

There is something missing from all these pictures, except the last one …

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… Butterflies

They don’t call this butterflyweed for nothing. In a good butterfly summer, the milkweed would be covered with butterflies of all sizes and colors.

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Not this summer. I’m seeing a few dragonflies, but I haven’t seen a butterfly for weeks.

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It’s a shame. I look forward to them every summer.

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One common milkweed grows beside the old garage. At least I’ll have a place for monarch butterflies to lay eggs if they do visit here.

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Obviously, this picture wasn’t taken this summer.

They still might visit here on their migration north.

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At least aphids are hatching on the underside of a milkweed leaf.

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Monarch Caterpillar

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You know it’s been a slow butterfly year when I find my first two monarch caterpillars on August 19.

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The aphids didn’t look overly tasty.

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I found another caterpillar later that day. They usually feed on the underside of the leaf where predators are less likely to find them.

The milky sap of the milkweeds makes them toxic to predators.

A Short Hike

Mine and Buffy’s hike started out as usual on the trail edging this lake.

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Tiger swallowtail butterflies flew from this swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) before I could get their picture.

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Aphids covered the upper stems of the few milkweeds.

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Square-stemmed monkey-flower (Mimulus ringens) grew in a dense patch.

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Patches of woodland sunflowers (Helianthus divaricatus) were common in the woods.

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Button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) usually attracts  numerous butterflies.

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Ironweed (Vernonia baldwini) is also a butterfly magnet. Only this spicebush swallowtail cooperated for a picture.

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Thunder rumbled behind us. I took a quick picture of this fog fruit (Lippia lanceolata), and we hurried back to the truck.

 

Finally! I Found One

I can’t believe I finally found a green lacewing. I’ve been looking for one since I found an egg 3 weeks ago.

The green lacewing’s body was all of a 1/2 inch long. The green-on-green didn’t advertise the lacewing’s presence. Only parts of its long antennae show in the picture.

The only reason I spotted this egg was with it being in the sunlight and the area behind it shaded. Green lacewings usually lay their eggs in a line. For some reason, there was only one on the leaf.

Green lacewings are found in meadows, gardens and forest edges throughout North America. The adults and larvae feed on small insects, especially aphids and nymphs of scale insects.

Aphids and Ants

The teeny and tiny caught my attention recently — the ants and aphids.

 They were on the porcelain vines scattered around the yard in places of dense vegetation. Porcelain and grape vines look just alike.

Notice the varying sizes of the aphids

Aphids feed on plant sap and excrete a sugary substance called honeydew. The ants go from aphid to aphid, collecting the liquid and storing it in their abdomen. When their abdomen is full, the ants take the honeydew back to their colony. Here it is transferred to honeypot ants and used feed to the ants during the winter.

Ants protect the aphids from predators, to protect their food source. The ants will move the aphids if their food source gets low. They will also take their eggs back to their colony for the winter, and then take the hatchlings back to a food source in the spring.

Winged adults

The activity between the ants and aphids was quite busy most of the time. That, plus their small size, I couldn’t tell exactly what activities I was watching.