Tuesday, March 8, 2016

False Milkweed bugs by Sarah Zuehlke

Hello everyone! It is nearly Spring and the weather is getting nicer.
It's getting warmer in Maryland where I live. And that means the insects are starting to come out.  Yesterday I found a bunch of False Milkweed bugs, Lygaeus turcicus, in one of my gardens. They were crawling around everywhere and many of them were mating. These milkweed bugs, despite their name having milkweed in it, don't eat milkweed. They actually eat sunflowers, Heliopsis helianthoides, also known as false sunflowers and smooth or rough oxeyes. Which is why they were in my garden because there were false sunflowers there last year. They overwintered in the leaves there beneath the flowers. It's amazing they survived the large snow storm we had here of nearly 2 feet of snow. How they eat the dried sunflower seeds is rather interesting. They sometimes pull out the seed and hold it with their two front arms while sucking with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. I have seen them do it several times. And here is a picture of one of them doing it. The little guys are out again today in this nice weather.

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