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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another Orange Bug

milkweed bugs on milkweed

Yesterday, did you notice a mass of orange ovals in the third picture, below the caterpillar? They are today's feature. These are the Milkweed Bug, a true bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus. (Not to be confused with the Milkweed Beetle, also orange.)

Most insects go through stages of development until they reach adult size. They begin with a worm or larvae, then may become a nymph- something that looks more like an insect but doesn't have all the characteristics of an adult, and then the adult. Along the way there may be more than one size/ body type of nymph, and these are called instars. The first picture shows both nymphs (in a couple of sizes) and adults. The adults have more black.

milkweed bug nymph

Here's a nice nymph, almost an adult. And below, with a friend.

milkweed bug nymphs

They do tend to congregate in "piles." They're really easy to confuse with boxelder beetles. But the pattern on the back of the adults is different. The nymphs are really hard to tell apart, but I think the milkweed bug has spots on its back, lower than the wing buds (those black ovals), while the boxelder nymph does not. At least the pictures I could find seemed to show this.

milkweed bugs on milkweed

Here is another group all huddled together. Don't worry, they don't bite. They only have sucking mouthparts. Of course, if you are a milkweed seed pod, you should be worried. They will suck the essence right out of your baby seeds.


RNSANE said...

They look like Halloween bugs, Shark...and there seem to be plenty of them. Woe to the milkweed, I guess!!

Dennis the Vizsla said...

I may have to go look up the difference between a bug and a regular insect now.

Garden Gnome Wanderings said...

Hi Sharkbytes :) What an interesting bug! It looks like they do a fair amount of damage though. I haven't seen these before or perhaps I just didn't recognize them. I'm going to be checking milkweed plants when I'm out for my walks to see if I can spot any.

Ann said...

Those are some cool looking bugs although to a milkweed seed pod probably not so much :)

spinninglovelydays said...

Those bugs seem to really love milkweed. I wonder what the plant tastes like, lol

Lin said...

They are naughty because they eat up my milkweed plant that is meant for my monarch caterpillars. I'm forever shooing those bad boys away!

Jean said...

I have very similar looking bugs here and didn't know what they were. Now I know. Thanks for the post!

Sharkbytes said...

Carmen- Halloween bugs! That's great.

Dennis- Hemiptera vs Coleptera

Garden Gnome- I don't think they damage enough of the milkweed to be a real problem. There is LOTS of milkweed here.

Ann- Yup... I've seen some huddles of them, but not everywhere in the field.

Ivy- milkweed is edible most times of the year. Now, not so much, but maybe I'll talk about that some time.

Lin- I guess if you care about one particular clump of milkweed they might present a problem. Here in the country, there's room for all.

Jean- make sure you aren't mistaking them for boxelder bug

Interesting Foto said...

nice capture

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