red bettle of some sort
Location: portland, tx
April 10, 2011 9:04 pm
Trimming oleanders today and came across these and I don’t know what they are. I live in Portland Texas, its spring time and found them all around. Not to bad though. Thanks for any info.
We are very interested in your letter. These are Large Milkweed Bug nymphs, Oncopeltus fasciatus, and as the name implies, they typically feed on Milkweed. They are Seed Bugs and they feed by sucking the juices from the seeds which also contain the toxic sap. Many insects that feed upon milkweed, including the Monarch Butterfly, store toxins that are found in the sap of the plant. The toxins help to protect the insects from predators, and many such insects sport red and black warning colors like these Large Milkweed Bugs. Oleander has similar qualities and insects that feed on the leaves of Oleander are similarly protected. This is the first time we have heard of Large Milkweed Bugs being associated with Oleander, but a web search has uncovered an article published in Ecological Entomology entitled Nerium oleander as an alternative host plant for south Florida milkweed bugs, Oncopeltus fasciatus by EDWARD KLAUSNER, ELIZABETH RUTH MILLER, HUGH DINGLE. Since we do not subscribe to the online Library, we cannot read the entire article, but this abbreviated abstract provides some fascinating information: “1 Life history data were gathered for south Florida Oncopeltus fasciatus reared from eggs on Nerium oleander seeds and milkweed seeds in the laboratory. 2 Milkweed seeds were found to be a superior food source since O.fasciatus grew faster, laid more clutches, and has a higher total fecundity on milkweed seeds. 3 Fruiting N.oleander was found to be a better food source than nonfruiting milkweeds in a summer field study in south Florida since no nymphs survived to the adult stage on nonfruiting milkweeds but some did on N.oleander. 4 O.fasciatus adults and nymphs are abundant on N.oleander in the summer in south Florida when N.oleander is fruiting; no O.fasciatus nymphs are found in the summer on the milkweeds which are not fruiting. 5 O.fasciatus leave N.oleander in the autumn when milkweeds start to fruit and can then be found on fruiting milkweeds.”
thanks for the response. My response is “Neat!”. is there anything else I can provide for you about the plant or insect?
Thanks for the offer Chris, but since both plant and insect are identified, and we found a precedent for the unusual relationship, we cannot think of anything else we would require. You may always add additional observations as comments to the posting.