Sunday, September 27, 2009

Some new acquaintances.

For the week that I was staying in Iowa, I was serenaded by Barred Owls, heard the local coyotes having midnight bacchanals (which my mother cutely referred to as bacchan-howls... har har), and lost myself in autumn insect songs. Although we were there for the sad business of cleaning up the house that belonged to my recently deceased grandfather, we also got the chance to explore the wonderful Ferguson Timber when taking breaks from cleaning duties.

While on one of our explorations, Katy and I came upon a Boxelder Bug tea party (update: Milkweed Bug tea party) taking place on a milkweed leaf:

On the same plant, we also saw this strange creature resting on the milkweed pod. He sure looks like some type of planthopper, but I'm not certain of his species (update: it's probably a shed skin of a Milkweed Bug):

Update! Two lovely folks who left comments (below) have shed some light on these buggy subjects. Cindy of Bug Safari, who works at the Fullerton Arboretum, let me know that those red tea party-ers are Milkweed Bugs and not Boxelder Bugs; and both she and Aydin of Snail's Tales feel that the second photo (which I thought was of a living insect) is actually a shell leftover from somebody's moult.


  1. I have been lurking on your blog for a month or so, and this post seems like a fitting place to "de-cloak" myself.

    I love how you call the cluster of milkweed bugs a "tea party". I often see such clusters in the arboretum where I am a docent, and I can't wait to use it next time I lead a bug hunt!

    I'm guessing that the second picture is the shed skin of one of those same milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus)

  2. I agree with Cindy that the thing in the 2nd picture is a shed skin of some insect.

  3. Thank you so much, Cindy and Aydin, for your thoughts about these photos--I have updated the post with some corrections. It's great to get some feedback here about my observations, since I'm often making guesses!