Currently viewing the tag: "WTB? Mt. Washington"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ed Note: We knew that we were getting close to our 25,000th posting for a few months now, and we decided to check today, but we were caught by surprise to find out we were at 24,999.  We decided to make this one special, a little different from our usual identification requests, so we decided to post the images Daniel just shot of a pair of California Mantids at the porch light, and perhaps to wax philosophically about what we hope we are accomplishing by publishing our humble site, now beginning its 16th year as a unique website.

Female California Mantis on the porch light

For years we have been running images, generally late in the season, of California Mantids attracted to the porch light to catch insects.  Male Mantids that can fly are much more common than are flightless females that have a more difficult time reaching the light, so this female was something of an anomaly.  Later in the day, she was joined by a male California Mantis who was probably attracted by her pheromones.  We thought we would take this opportunity with this significant milestone of 25,000 postings to expound a bit on our philosophy of a healthy ecosystem in the garden.  Mature predators like these Mantids catch larger insects, and adult Mantids are much more visible in the garden, but the real significance of having predators is the number of smaller insects they consume while growing.  Young Mantids, barely a centimeter in length hatch in the spring, and they perform an incalculable benefit with the large numbers of tiny insects they eat while growing.  Having a healthy population of predators in your garden throughout the year will help control many insect pests without the use of pesticides.

A pair of California Mantids

Though we have numerous identification request awaiting our attention, we have decided to take the rest of the day off and let our 25,000th posting stand alone today.  We will return tomorrow and we will try to catch up on unanswered mail.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Praying Mantis
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
October 2, 2017
2:38 PM
Hi Daniel,
I found a desiccated praying mantis caught in a thick spider web.  Must have been sticky… aren’t they strong enough to pull themselves out of a web?
Great Autumn day, my favorite time of the year.
Monique

Mantis Exuvia

Hi Monique,
Look more closely at your image.  See the split down the back and empty shell?  This is an exuvia, the shed exoskeleton of a Preying Mantis.  Somewhere in your garden, there is probably an adult Preying Mantis.  This is the time of year they are maturing, mating and laying eggs in an ootheca in preparation for the start of a new generation next spring.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Three Male California Mantids
Geographic Location of the Bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date:  September 16, 2016
Time:  10:38 AM EDT
Saturday morning, after posting identification requests from our readership, Daniel discovered three male California Mantids in various places in the yard.  Earlier in the season, several female California Mantids were observed over time.  Daniel knows for certain there are at least three mature females in the garden now, and they are probably releasing pheromones as it is time to mate and lay eggs.  One could only hope that each female attracted her own suitor.

First Male California Mantis on the Hungarian wax pepper plant.

Male California Mantids can be distinguished from female California Mantids because males are smaller, thinner and have longer wings.  Unlike the wings of the males, the wings of the females do not reach the end of the abdomen.  Both male and female California Mantids can be brown or green.

Second male California Mantis on the screen door.

Third male California Mantis on the porch light.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Please don’t be a Budworm
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
Date: 09/10/2017
Time: 05:56 PM EDT
Dear Bugman,
Today while inspecting my medical marijuana plants, I discovered this caterpillar. I also discovered some brown buds. Is this a dreaded Budworm?
How you want your letter signed:  Constant Gardener

Tobacco Budworm

Dear Constant Gardener,
According to Rollitup:  “The tobacco budworm varies greatly in appearance so it can easily be confused with other species. Making an accurate ID of your attacker can be important because some species have built up resistances to certain treatments. Luckily for us growers, if you find a caterpillar on your plants you can be 99% sure its a tobacco budworm. If you live in Africa, Europe, New Zealand, Australia or Asia its going to be the species
Helicoverpa armigera. If you live anywhere else its going to be the species Heliothis virescens. The distinction between these two species is not important however since they can both be treated using the same methods.  Most people find the larval form (caterpillar) on their plants so I won’t spend much time describing the adult moth. The caterpillars are initially pale green and often have black dots covering their body. Thin dark lines run down the length of the abdomen and tend to be darker around the second and third segments. As the larva ages (progresses in instars) the black dots may develop a red border around them. The abdomen is also covered with numerous microspines that give the caterpillar a rough feel. The head capsule is nearly always a light brown color. Again I wouldn’t worry too much if this description doesn’t completely match up with the caterpillar you find. There is great phenotypic variation in the tobacco budworm so there can be different colors and designs.”  According to Featured Creatures:  “Tobacco budworm is principally a field crop pest, attacking such crops as alfalfa, clover, cotton, flax, soybean, and tobacco. However, it sometimes attacks such vegetables as cabbage, cantaloupe, lettuce, pea, pepper, pigeon pea, squash, and tomato, especially when cotton or other favored crops are abundant. Tobacco budworm is a common pest of geranium and other flower crops such as ageratum, bird of paradise, chrysanthemum, gardenia, geranium, petunia, mallow, marigold, petunia, snapdragon, strawflower, verbena, and zinnia.”  No mention is made of Cannabis being a host plant.  When we searched that BugGuide, we found an image very similar to your own, and according to BugGuide the food plants include  “Cotton, tobacco, roses, ground cherries, soybean, and many others.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  California Mantis patrolling my Woody Plant captures marauding Grasshopper
Geographic location of the bug:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Date:  09/09/2017
Time:  10:37 AM EDT
Dear Bugman,
Last week I sent you pictures of the female California Mantis that is patrolling my Woody Plant.  Well, today I am happy to report that she is doing her job.  I found her eating this large green grasshopper.  I wish I could have seen the actual capture, but I didn’t arrive until after the Grasshopper had its head eaten away.  Much earlier in the summer, I removed some small green Grasshoppers that you identified as a Gray Bird Grasshopper, a funny name since it was green.
How you want your letter signed:  Constant Gardener

Female California Mantis eats Gray Bird Grasshopper nymph

Dear Constant Gardener,
The prey in your image is indeed a Gray Bird Grasshopper nymph, and it is much larger than the individual in your submission from early July of a Gray Bird Grasshopper nymph.  The reason these green nymphs are called Gray Bird Grasshoppers is because that is the color of the mature adult.  Nymphs feeding on fresh green leaves need to blend in or they will be eaten.  Your female California Mantis is beautifully camouflaged among the leaves of your plant, especially when she is downwardly hanging.

Thanks Bugman,
Do you have any further advice regarding caring for my guard insect?

Hi again Constant Gardener,
If a mature, mated California Mantis finds a safe plant where the hunting is good, she will remain there.  She will eventually produce and attach to woody stems, several oothecae, the egg cases that each contain dozens of eggs that will hatch into mantidlings in the spring.  When you harvest, keep a diligent eye peeled for the oothecae.  In our own garden, we tie the oothecae we discover while pruning in the fall and winter onto trees and shrubs where we would like to have predators that keep injurious species at bay.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Spider on woody plant
Location: Mt Washington, CA
August 21, 2017 5:59 pm
Dear Mr. Bug,
There is a lovely green spider living on my woody plant. My boyfriend insists that this spider is just guarding the plant from other, more nefarious bugs. It is quite a beautiful spider and has black hairs on its legs. What is it? And will this spider eat my stigmas?
Thanks!
Signature: Lady Nugs

Green Lynx Spider

Dear Lady Nugs,
Goodness gracious, Mt. Washington seems to be a fertile environment for growing woody plants.  Your boyfriend is correct.  Spiders are predatory and not phytophagous, so your plants are safe.  This is a Green Lynx Spider, and the shape of the pedipalps indicates this is a female.  We did need to brush up on our botany regarding the “stigma”, so we headed to Encyclopaedia Britannica to rediscover that “The gynoecium, or female parts of the flower, comprise the pistils, each of which consists of an ovary, with an upright extension, the style, on the top of which rests the stigma, the pollen-receptive surface.”  Your images are gorgeous, and the detail is incredible.  It is our experience that Green Lynx Spiders gravitate toward plants where they will be well camouflaged.  Your Green Lynx Spider blends in perfectly with the inforescence also visible in the image.

Green Lynx Spider

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination