Saturday, January 7, 2012

Large Milkweed Bugs

Large Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus, on A. curassavica
 I am looking at a Large Milkweed Bug nestled softly in a tuft of downy milkweed seeds.  What a cozy spot.   But the bug is not keeping warm on a breezy morning, it is eating.  Seed bugs, like this Large Milkweed bug, suck juices from seeds and other parts of the milkweed plant.
 Inside the pod, or follicle, the milkweed seeds overlap like fish scales, or plates of armor.  When the pod ripens and splits open, the silk attached to the seeds begin to dry.  The fibers fluff and puff, catching the slightest breeze.  Make a wish!  When I was a girl, we said that if you caught a drifting milkweed seed that your wish would come true.  Plant the seed and wish for Monarch Butterflies!
Large Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus faciatus on Tropical Milkweed

Three unopened follicles of A. curassavica, One opened pod with Large Milkweed Bug

Inside the pod, milkweed seeds overlap like fish scales.