Friday, October 20, 2006

Help needed! Pineleaf Milkweed predators

Today I photographed some of the tiny creatures on my pineleaf milkweed plants. I had to use a magnifying glass to see some of them. I planted these plants last May to attract butterflies. I carefully nurtured them through the summer drought and they're just now starting to bud.Below is a Milkweed Bug. I learned that people purchase these to get rid of invasive milkweed. They really are quite beautiful, but I think they should be somewhere where people want to get rid of their milkweed plants - not in my patio. I know these are aphids and that they aren't good for the plant. I also know that a soaking of Safer's insecticidal soap or a heavy hosing will get them off the plant. However, there are other things on the plant that I may want to preserve.
Anyone know what this little orange guy is? Is it "good" or "bad" for my butterfly attracting plant?And then there are these:If anyone (1) can identify the creatures in the above four photos (including the bright orange bug), (2) tell me which of these insects/cocoons(?)/pupae(?) should stay and which should go, and (3) also tell me how to remove or encourage the "bad" ones to leave without endangering the "good" ones, I'd really appreciate your comments. I need all the help I can get with this problem.


beadlizard said...

If it's a small area, for instance the bit of aphids, you can use a bit of rubbing alcohol on a q-tip to swab the bad guys off. That's how my grandmother used to have me remove scale from her plumaria. Sorry I can't help identify any of the critters! --Sylvia

Michele said...

The orange bug is probably some sort of Pentatomid nymph, and it is most likely a plant-feeder. It might also be a Scutellerid. The pale gray thing may be a larval beetle of some kind, but I'm not sure. You could always spray the plant with plain water to keep the aphid population low. The sturdier bugs would be able to crawl back up.

Sonia said...

Sorry Pam, but I can't help you with this trouble!
Anyway, I love these photos!

T. Beth said...

They look like plant pests. The main things to check for before you spray are butterfly caterpillars. I let them feed on my garden plants (within reason), but aphids get hosed off.

The yellow aphids are a particular species that specializes in milkweeds even though they are poisonous (unfortunately I can't remember their scientific name).

LauraHinNJ said...

Milkweed bugs are seed bugs, aren't they? They feed only on the seeds, so I wonder what they would be doing on a plant that is just beginning to bloom?

My milkweeds were covered with milkweed bugs, but they looked different than yours - I wonder if that orange one isn't a milkweed bug nymph?

Just thinking out loud here. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I remain permanently amazed at your eye for the little things in nature - the wondrous and the miraculous. It does my soul good. :)

Anonymous said...

Nice pics Pam. No help for id's I'm afraid but I'd be tempted to leave these to their own devices because a) some of them are pretty cool in their own right and b) they're bound to be food for something cooler still.

Pam in Tucson said...

Sylvia - Thanks very much for the alcohol tip. That's really interesting. I'll keep it in mind for small areas.

michele - Thank you so much for the interesting info. I'll try spraying with water, since it seems that nothing on the plant is going to benefit it or the butterflies I'm trying to attract.

hi sonia. Always happy to welcome you!

t.beth - I was afraid they were all plant pests. I haven't seen anything large enough to indicate "butterfly." I'll certainly want to keep the caterpillars, if they ever show up. Thanks for your help.

laurahinnj - I think you may be right about the Milkweed Bug nymph, judging from some of the photos I brought up when I googled it. The Milkweed Bug photos that I've found online resemble the one I took pretty closely. What do yours look like? I see the bugs on the plant every day. Don't know what they're looking for. The plant still looks pretty healthy and uneaten.

chiefbiscuit - Thank you. I love finding beauty in tiny things. When our kids were small, we gave them 10-power magnifiers. They never got bored with finding cool things to look at.

tai haku - I'm torn. I do understand your point, but I really want the butterflies to find my Milkweeds and breed on them, and I don't want aphids and bugs destroying them. I found this out about the Milkweed Bugs: "Milkweed bugs have few predators because they concentrate in their bodies bad tasting compounds found in the sap of milkweed plants. The bugs use their bright colors to advertise their bad taste. Inexperienced birds that taste their first milkweed bug are unlikely to try to eat another orange and black insect! Some insects that do not taste bad use similar color patterns to fool birds. These are known as mimics."

Anonymous said...

Hi... I think the picture under the one with thw orange bug is either the chrysallis of a Harvester Butterfly (Feniseca tarquinius). They eat aphids, which is why they were probably attracted to your plants. Check out this website..
The caterpillars shows there are yeloow and brownish.. the ones that show up on my milkweeds are green. I also have a MilkWeed bug issue on mine. I am going to try to get rid of them using a bucket of soapy water.