Monday, July 17, 2017
The eggs were small, but quite a bit larger than the Monarch butterfly eggs I had been looking for, and placed in these very nice rows, for a total of 15 eggs.
I don't know how old they were when I found them, but 5 days after finding them they hatched and I was very surprised to see what the hatchlings looked like. Not at all what I was expecting.
Their antenna were longer than their bodies and legs, and were waving all around as they started to move away from the eggs as a group.
Spiny Assassin Bugs are true bugs, and in the insect order called Hemiptera. All true bugs have a tube-like sucking mouth, and they either suck plant juices, or prey on other insects and suck the juices from their prey.
Spiny Assassin Bugs are predators and capture other insects to eat.
As they eat they grow, and need to shed their skins to grow. With each shed they look different, so see below.
I will try to post pictures of their next instars, but will need to recapture one as they have been released back into the native wildflower garden to contribute their part to the very active ecosystem there.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
But in nature there are many battles every species needs to constantly fight to have its population stay healthy and survive to reproduce the next generation.
For the Monarch a parasitic tachinid fly is one of the battles it must face.
The eggs hatch and burrow into the insides of the caterpillar, feeding on non-vital tissue, so the caterpillar can stay healthy enough to keep eating, providing more food for these parasites.
The fly larvae, which are small white maggots, continue to eat inside the caterpillar until they are ready to pupate, the stage of metamorphosis in which they will prepare to turn into adult flies. To do this the maggots have to leave the caterpillar and drop to the ground.
After the fly maggots eat an exit hole in the caterpillar or chrysalis, and drop to the ground, the Monarch caterpillar or chrysalis always dies. Its vital organs finally having been eaten by the maggots before they left.
Below are eight pupae of the parasitic tachinid fly shortly after they emerged from a Monarch chrysalis 11 days ago.
They stayed like this for ten days, and began to emerge as adult flies yesterday.
The two gray antenna on the front of the face seem slightly different than other flies.
The pattern on the back seems a little more pronounced than some flies.
The face down below would only be appealing to another tachinid fly.