Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Milkweed at Osbornedale

Osbornedale State Park in Derby maintains a large field filled with mostly native plants, including lots of Common Milkweed. I had my eye out for Monarch Caterpillars, but found none (and no evidence of caterpillars eating leaves, either). I'm not sure why that is, perhaps the timing.

I did recognize this small bug, the same species that I had recently seen all over the tops of my potatoes. I had identified it at the time as the Small Eastern Milkweed Bug, and here it was, where it was supposed to be, in Milkweed. Why they were in my potatoes is beyond me. All the literature absolutely asured me that these beetles will not harm a garden and only go in Milkweed.

Let's see if we can spot a color pattern here on the Milkweed. Throw Monarch Butterflies in...they're red and black. This one is the Red Milkweed Beetle. I love it when the names coincide nicely with what I found them on.

Here's the Tussock Sedge Moth caterpillar, also known to eat Milkweed.

And the Large Milkweed Bug. Orange/Red and Black seem to be the universal colors for all these bugs, and those colors are a warning to predators. The milkweed contains a toxic substance that these insects are able to eat and store in their bodies, rendering them poisonous. So don't eat them.


Anonymous said...

Re: why no monarch caterpillars?

Timing. We usually look for the caterpillars when the flower clusters are still not open. When gathering the clusters for eating, we try to spot the caterpillars among the stems of the flowers.

Karen, The 3 Foragers

Teresa said...

Yet I found about 100 monarch caterpillars last year in September (see http://sheltontrails.blogspot.com/2009/09/life-in-milkweed.html). I know there is a migration north, and then another migration south. I saw a lot of Monarch adults flying around milkweed today in Stratford, perhaps looking to lay eggs for the next generation.