Getting busy

There is a big field of milkweed plants near my new apartment.

I went for a walk to investigate the field, and saw that the milkweed beetles (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) are in abundance. I saw many males mate guarding – holding onto females before or after copulation, I’m not sure which in their case. It can be tough for a female to find another mate when the first guy is still hanging on.

These beetles are interesting for a variety of reasons:
Their antennae bisect their eyes, making it look like they have two eyes on each side.
The beetles will stridulate (made a squeaky scraping sound) when they are handled.
Since they eat milkweed plants, they become distasteful to predators. Their red and black aposematic coloration serves as a warning.

I learned today that milkweed plants are also a popular spot for night pollinating moths, including sphingids (the hawk moths). It has been recommended that I spend some time outside by the milkweed at night to observe moths as they are pollinating. I will probably grab a lawn chair, a glass of wine, and a headlamp and do that the next night it’s not raining.

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Posted on June 7, 2012, in Coleoptera, Invertebrates, Lepidoptera. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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