11 September, 2010

A Quick Post

This is only a quick post today.  It was a rough week at work with way too many long days trying to meet a deadline.  I didn't take a single photo all week.  I took a few this morning while taking a stroll around the yard to see what has been going on while I wasn't looking.  First up is this red and black Large Milkweed Bug, Oncopeltus fasciatus.  I had noticed these bugs earlier in the summer all over the milkweed plants; most recently it was mating pairs that seemed to be everywhere on the milkweed.  Just like the monarch butterfly caterpilars, they store the toxins from the milkweed that they eat and advertise that fact in their red/orange and black coloring to deter predation.  It seems to work because there are lots of them!
I never saw any eggs, but did find several clusters of the newly hatched young on a number of milkweed seed pods today.  This is the first year I have noticed these bugs.
In the spring, we planted some annual vines to grow on the trellis that has gotten a little too shady for the clematis.  This is called moonflower (Ipomea alba).  The closed flower buds look like a little green unicorn horn the way it is twisted.
The flower opens only at night and you can see in the photo below that bud has untwisted, unfurling the fused, white petals.
They quickly open all the way and release a fantastic jasmine-like perfumeThe flowers are huge - about 7 inches across. 
I took these pictures tonight; tomorrow morning, when the sun hits them, they will wilt almost immediately and turn brown.


  1. What a fascinating plant that vine is Wilma.
    Nightime flowers, I bet it's a real moth magnet.

  2. Keith -- You are correct; in its natural habitat, it is pollinated by moths. I hope that something around here will be able to pollinate it because I want to get some seeds!



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