Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Life on a silverleaf

Maybe a clavate tortoise beetle (Plagiometriona clavata)
See UPDATE--adult beetle below
That's all I have to do...walk around the yard or the Meadow, and I'll see something. Like yesterday, I noticed something chewing on the silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium). I bend down for a closer look, and what do I see? A very odd critter!

So I posted a photo on Bugguide.net, thinking it was a mealy bug species of some sort. NOT! It's a tortoise beetle larva! But not just any beetle larva, mind you!

"The larva is a typical tortoise beetle type, but very unlike most other beetle larvae," according to Featured Creatures, posted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture. "The last abdominal segment has a special 'fecal fork' which permits the attachment of dried fecal matter. This fecal mass is carried over the dorsum in the same form as 'trash bugs' (Neuroptera), and presumably offers a degree of protection through camouflage. The body is green, flattened, and almost entirely fringed with whitish multispiculate projections."  

I also spotted what I thought were three species of caterpillars on the nightshade, but it may just be two instead.....

Salt marsh moth (Estigmene acrea) or a fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea). Even the experts can't agree....yet. I think it's a salt marsh.
Some galls....
Probably a Heliothis sp.
And maybe another Heliothis sp.

I  returned to the Meadow and found MORE life on silverleafs...
 A gall....

A treehopper in the genus Micrutalis...thank you, Bugguide.net!

Same treehopper...

 And a leafhopper assassin bug (Zelus renardii) lurking among the leaves....thanks again, Bugguide.net experts for the ID help.


I'm pretty sure this is the adult tortoise beetle!

UPDATE November 15Eggplant tortoise beetle (Gratiana pallidula)

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