Bugs on Milk Weed, Worms in Webs, a Potter, a Jumping Spider, and a Robber

Large Milkweed Bugs have hatched out as there were many nymphs on the Butterfly Weed in Catch the Wind during the first week of August. This was only a few days after seeing both Large and Small Milkweed Bugs mating and inspecting this plant.

mweed bugs
Some of the hundreds of Large Milkweed Bug nymphs seen the first week of August.
mweed bug
An adult Large Milkweed Bug in comparison with nymphs of the same species.

Seven days later the nymphs began to take on some of the characteristics of the adults.

mweed bug nymphs
Within days, many of the nymphs began to show black markings on their abdomens and tiny black wing buds. This is what they looked like on the 11th of August.

Fall Webworms have been at work on the Museum’s trees for a month or more. These caterpillars construct their web around the leaves that they’re feeding on at the time, enlarging the web as they go. They typically build their webs near the tip of a branch, whereas tent caterpillars, which are sometimes confused with webworms, build their “tents” in a crotch of a tree.

Webworms usually build their protective web near the end of a branch.
Fall webworms expand their web as they feed, using it as protection against would be predators.

The webworms don’t venture out of the web, but, as mentioned, add on to the web as they go. Tent caterpillars feed outside of their tents and retreat to the protection of the tent after feeding.

While you’re out strolling through the Dinosaur Trail keep an eye out for Potter Wasp “pots” on the horsetail along the trail. Potter Wasps build little pot-like mud nests in which to lay their eggs, one egg per pot.

potter wasp
These two “pots” are attached to the horsetail which grows near the Troodons on the Dinosaur Trail (each pot about 18 mm).

The pot is stocked with small caterpillars and or sawfly larvae for the wasp’s larva to feed on once it hatches. Once the pot is stocked with food and the egg is in place, the entry hole is sealed. After the wasp larva hatches, feeds and pupates, it will have to chew its way out of the pottery.

The top pot has been sealed while the bottom one was completed but apparently abandoned.
The top pot has been sealed while the bottom one was completed but apparently abandoned (these pots are located on the opposite side of the path from the Troodons).

On an relatively cool rainy day during the third week of August (8/19) I came across a jumping spider that had captured a female Blue Dasher (or an immature male, not sure). The dragonfly was apparently waiting out the morning rain perched among the grass and the spider seized the moment.

jumping spider w/prey
This jumping spider appears to have its hands full with this dragonfly. 
jumping spider w/prey
The spider has a firm grip on the ode’s head. The dragonfly’s head is completely turned around, that’s the mouth parts that you see in this photo, not the top of the head.

The same day, in the tall grass on the north side of the Wetlands, a very large Robber Fly was able to snatch a wasp.

robber fly
A robber fly perches on the tall grass with its prey, a wasp.

Robber flies are very quick and agile fliers and often wait in ambush at flowers or other places of heavy insect traffic to strike out at all who pass by.

Never a dull moment in the Wild!

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