Currently viewing the tag: "What’s on my Woody Plant?"
Gardeners are frequent contributors to our site because of concerns they have differentiating beneficial insects from injurious species. With more and more gardeners attempting to cultivate Cannabis, we started noticing more identification requests from growers. We hope we are offering a public service by responding to our readers’ questions without sensationalizing or taking sides surrounding the legalization of marijuana.

Subject:  What are these Flies eating with the California Mantis?
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 07/23/2018
Time: 07:04 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Dear Bugman,
The California Mantis living on my Sweet Sarah clone is growing, but today was the first time I saw it with a meal, but these flies were swarming around and the Mantis was shaking its head and moving, but the flies kept pestering.  I watched this for about a half an hour at which time the flies finally tired and flew off.  What are they?  I couldn’t see what the Mantis was eating, but it was green.  There are lots of tiny Grasshoppers on my plants.
How do you want your letter signed:  Constant Gardener

Freeloader Flies Kleptoparasitize Feeding Mantis

Dear Constant Gardener,
Your image is amazing.  We quickly located this image on Colin Purrington Nature Photography that looks remarkably like your image, but the Flies are not identified, but they are compared to “vultures.”  Then we found another image of a Mantis with prey and small flies on BugGuide where they are identified as Freeloader Flies in the genus
Desmometopa and BugGuide states:  “Females are kleptoparasitic and are especially attracted to predatory insects or spiders feeding on honeybees.”

Freeloader Flies with California Mantis on Woody Plant

Subject:  Green Lynx Spider
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 07/14/2018
Time: 08:03 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
While tending to my plants, I searched for the small California Mantis that had been there several weeks, but couldn’t find it.  I did notice what appeared to be the same Green Lynx Spider I saw earlier in the month had returned.  It is really shy and as I moved in with the camera, it hid under the leaves.  It is really difficult to find it when it is hiding.  I observed it eating a small fly and I noticed a second Green Lynx nearby on another branch.  It is so fascinating that the same predators are appearing again this year.  I had several Green Lynx Spiders on my plants last summer.
How you want your letter signed:  Constant Gardener

Green Lynx Spider

Dear Constant Gardener,
Green Lynx Spiders are frequently found on blossoms where they capture pollinating insects.  Hopefully these predators will keep your plants free from marauding insects.

Green Lynx Spider

Subject:  The Mantis on my Woody Plant is growing
Geographic location of bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date:  7/10/2018
Time:  6:46 AM
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
I thought you might be interested in a follow-up on the Mantis on my woody plant I wrote about three weeks ago.  Last week I saw a shed exoskeleton (sorry no photo) and after disappearing for the day I made that discovery, the Mantis returned and has been back living on my Sweet Sarah clone ever since.  The Mantis has gotten bigger.  A Green Lynx Spider shared the plant for about a week, but today the Mantis is where the Green Lynx used to be and the Green Lynx is gone.  I have not seen this Mantis eat.  Both the Mantis and my plants survived the heat wave last weekend.
How you want your letter signed:  Constant Gardener

Immature California Mantis on Sweet Sarah clone

Dear Constant Gardener,
Thanks for the update on the immature California Mantis you found on your Woody Plant.  We suspect it is the product of the female California Mantis you documented last year.

Update:  July 11, 2018
After noticing a Facebook posting by Jason RE who wrote:  “‘woody plant’ silly rabbit that is marijuana, not seeing any buds” we decided we needed to crop the image so the well camouflaged mantis is more noticeable.

Immature California Mantis

Subject:  Mantis on my Woody Plant
Geographic location of bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date:  6/21/2018
Time:  10:01 AM
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
It is another year and another growing season.  I am growing more woody plants this year than I grew last year and I observed my first young Mantis today.  Hopefully it will eat grasshoppers and other insects that might negatively affect my crop this year.
How you want your letter signed:  Constant Gardener

Immature California Mantis

Dear Constant Gardener,
Thanks for the update on your gardening exploits.  We looked at some of your postings from last year and we see you did have California Mantids in your garden.  It seems they reproduced and have progeny to take up the job of patrolling your Woody Plants.  Please keep submitting images.  Many of our readers may benefit from what you are learning.

Subject:  On my woody plant
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 05/13/2018
Time: 11:54 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What’s That Bug?
How you want your letter signed:  Max Yield


Dear Max Yield,
This is an Aphid that feeds by piercing the soft membranes of new shoots of plants and sucking the fluids.  Aphids will quickly multiply.  Ants have a symbiotic relationship with Aphids, caring for them and moving them to new plants, spreading the infestations.  Ants benefit by feeding off the honeydew excreted by Aphids and Aphids benefit from the protection.  An Aphid infestation will compromise the health of your plant and tender shoots will sometimes wither when there are large numbers of Aphids. 

Subject:  What are these Assassin Bug nymphs doing?
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date: 04/20/2018
Time: 04:20 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  That’s definitive, but what are they doing rolling around those sacks, and some of the sacks have been hung up?
Thanks for identifying.
How do you want your letter signed:  Mel Frank

Immature Leaf Footed Bugs with “Pod”

Ed. Note:  We met recently with noted author Mel Frank (see Amazon) and we correctly identified what he thought were Assassin Bug nymphs found on Cannabis as Leaf Footed Bug nymphs, probably in the genus Leptoglossus, based on BugGuide images as well as images from our own archives, and he wrote back wondering about this unusual activity.

“Pods” hung by immature Leaf Footed Bugs

Hi again Mel,
As we stated earlier, these Leaf Footed Bug nymphs are phytophagous, meaning they feed on plants.  Like other members of the True Bug suborder Heteroptera, they have mouths designed to pierce and suck fluids, and members of this genus are frequently found on plants like tomatoes, pomegranate and citrus, and they damage fruit.  BugGuide notes:  “some are extremely polyphagous” indicating that they will feed from many types of plants.  Some typically plant feeding True Bugs are known to feed on dead and dying insects, including members of their own species, but that is opportunistic behavior and not true predatory behavior.  What you witnessed and observed over time, the nymphs “rolling around those sacks” and then hanging them up, sounds like the behavior of a predator storing food the way spiders wrap up prey with silk.  We wonder, perhaps, if while feeding by sucking the fluids from your
Cannabis, these Leaf Footed Bugs ingested cannabinoids resulting in altered “mindbending” behavior similar to experiments on a Spider’s ability to spin a web after exposure to drugs (see Priceonomics).  We have not clue at this time exactly what is in that sack these nymphs were rolling around, or why they were rolling them around and hanging them up.  It is a mystery.  We will contact Eric Eaton to see if he knows anything about this type of behavior in Leaf Footed Bugs from the family Coreidae.  We can’t help but be reminded of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and the aliens using pods to generate simulacra of humans. 

Update April 25, 2018:  Eric Eaton provides information.
So the plant they are on is marijuana?  In any event, yes, these are Leptoglossus nymphs, which typically feed on seeds or seed pods, and that is what the “sacs” are.  I’m a bit perplexed by the “webbing” around them.  The nymphs may be maneuvering the seeds to find a good place to pierce them so they can suck out the juicy contents.
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America

The mystery is the sacs. The only plant nearby was the pomegranate tree with lots of pomegranates. Also, some of the sacs have been hung.
Thanks for clearing this up.

Pomegranate is one of the primary host plants for Leaf Footed Bugs in the Los Angeles area.  You frequently find numerous individuals feeding on a single pomegranate.  The “sacs” look somewhat like unripe pomegranate seeds.
Update:  August 25, 2018
Daniel: You told me that these are leaf-footed bug. I’ve found near identical images online that id them as leaf-footed, but also have found images that are identified as assassin bug nymphs.

What makes me think these might be assassin bugs is the “sacks” that were hung nearby and that the bugs were involved with them.
Anyway, I am not the only one confused as clearly people are identifying them as one or the other and I can’t see the differences in the images that are posted.
Mel Frank

Mystery of Leaf Footed Bugs with “pods”

Hi again Mel,
We are sticking with immature Leaf Footed Bugs, probably genus Leptoglossus.  Can you please provide the links?