After around a decade of doing this, you’d think that a home monarch grower would have seen pretty much everything you’re going to see in the monarch patch. Nope. There’s always something new to discover. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not so good. We made two interesting bug discoveries this week! One was the flower fly (hoverfly) larva. It looks similar to a silverfish, but why would there be a silverfish on my milkweed?
Like the ladybug, it’s a good new/bad news bug. The good news is that it eats aphids – YAY! The bad news is that it will also eat butterfly eggs and tiny cats.
The second one we found looked like a cross between an alien life form and a roomba. It was also scurrying in the milkweed. I was quite taken aback by its ragged appearance and nasty looking single pincer that swept in front of him as he ran around. After a good Google search, I found that it was a green lacewing larva, AKA “trash bug.” I’m always seeing the lacewing eggs on my plants and have probably seen this larva before but thought it was just a piece of debris. As it turns out, under close inspection you’ll discover that the cluttered appearance on his back is the bodies of his conquered aphids. He carries them around on his back. The smell wards off the ants that farm the aphids for honeydew and would be predators of the tiny larva. Nature never ceases to amaze me.
On the egg side of the news. It’s still a dismally low year for monarchs. I did find 19 eggs in our plants today, which is the most that I’ve found since the first day of the season. So we wait to see what happens now. Are they just late this year, or are they just not coming? Only time will tell.