Today’s hike took me through a meadow that I haven’t been to in years. The community has reseeded it so that it’s now all native plants, specially picked to attract birds and butterflies.
Milkweed is a favorite of monarch butterflies, and there are now several huge patches of it in the meadows.
Milkweed is a lovely flower – here’s a whorled milkweed –
The milkweed in this field was very tall, though, more like the ones I remember seeing as a kid in Ohio.
I got up close to photograph the progression they make from those tiny flowers to the big puffy seed sacks.
It’s remarkably like pregnancy:
As I was up close, I noticed a pair of bugs mating. Of course, I took their photo – who can resist a little bug porn?
Then I noticed that the next plant also had a mating pair of these bugs.
And so did the next one.
And the next. It was a milkweed orgy!
When I got home, I posted these photos to the Spider and Insect Enthusiast Group that I belong to and asked for help with identifying these couples.
A fellow group member immediately piped up, “Milkweed bugs!”
I laughed and said, “HAPPY milkweed bugs.”
Well, yes, but it turns out that Large Milkweed Bug is their actual name. Oncopeltus fasciatus.
I’d thought she was kidding.
I learned that the Large Milkweed Bug lays eggs in the milkweed pods, about 30 eggs a day. A female can lay 2,000 eggs in her one-month lifetime.
I had another one to ask about – a lovely fuzzy caterpillar, tufted with a texture like yarn. This was also on a milkweed.
But before I asked for an ID, I googled “milkweed caterpillar” just for fun.
And there it was: Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillar.
So next time you’re stuck for the name of a bug, just call it a “[Name of Plant It’s On] Bug.”
Here’s another bug from today, the Shiny Passionflower Bug:
You know I’m kidding, right? That’s the infamous Japanese beetle – they are terribly destructive. (That’s also what the bug in the featured image is – except that’s a Gnawing Elderberry Bug.)
So how about this one – the Skinny Purple Cone Flower Bug.
This flower’s also known as echinacea. Maybe he has a cold and wants to fortify his immune system?
I’ll get back to you with an ID on that.
Today’s penny is a 2012, the year that I saw milkweed in Ohio for the first time in decades. More about that another time.