Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Indian Hemp Insects

Indian Hemp, Apocynum cannabinum, is just beginning to bloom.  This plant is one of the first stops for newly emerged Edwards’ Hairstreak butterflies, so I hung around the patch for a few minutes to see if any butterflies were active.  No butterflies yet, but there were plenty of other interesting insects.

The most numerous species was a firefly.  I believe this is Pyropyga decipiens.  This is not one of those species that blinks through the air on warm summer evenings.  Its light producing capacity is more subdued.

I don’t know much of the life history of this species, but this posture must be significant.  Most of the specimens I saw were assuming this same position.

This might be some sort of mating display.  These shots were taken about half an hour before sundown, so this might be a way of exposing its light signal to potential mates.

A Click Beetle had itself wedged between leaf and stalk.  Not a very effective camouflage, but these beetles are pretty well protected from most small predators.

Several brown leafhoppers rested on the stems, although none of them appeared to be feeding.  Leafhopper identification can be a challenge.  There are a staggering number of species along with a bunch of newly discovered species awaiting names and others waiting to be described.  It’s also possible that some of the colorful common species have look-alikes that cannot be separated without strong magnification of hard to find parts.

As the flowers open to attract insect pollinators, predators gather to take their share of the visitors.  Hidden among the flower buds, a small spider is feeding on a fly not much smaller than itself.

Ambush Bugs are already mature and ready to tackle the larger insects coming in for nectar.

Several Soldier Beetles, Chauliognathus marginatus, were moving among the plants.  Adults of this species feed primarily on pollen and nectar.  This one seems to be living up to its name by issuing commands to the rest of the troops.

When you see leaves stuck together, it usually means that there is something living inside.

The leaves were stuck together by webbing created by this larva.  Most of the feeding activity was directed toward the new growth trapped between the two leaves.  I’m not sure what the larva will look like in its adult form.

I try not to be too disruptive in my investigations, so I used a make shift clothes pin to reclose the leaves.  The larva will most likely relocate as a result of this disturbance, but at least I didn’t leave it exposed to the next hungry bird that flew by.


  1. Is that the same Hemp you hear spoken about when the conversation is about making paper or clothes items ?

    Those click Beetles are something we played with as a kid. We never harmed them though. Although I'm sure they considered us an annoyance.



  2. So many bugs. ;) Very interesting post. Thanks.

  3. Hi Kevin. The hemp used to produce fiber is Cannabis sativa.

    Hi Lois. Summer would certainly be dull without bugs.