Sunday, July 10, 2011
Common milkweed and some visitors
The photo of an umbel shows some flowers pink and others already yellowing. I've noticed that pollinating insects seem to visit only the pink ones. I don't know if the yellow ones are those that have been pollinated, or those that are withering, whether successfully pollinated or not. I suspect the latter, since I've read that few flowers in each umbel are successfully pollinated. I don't know what kind of insect that is on the umbel.
Bumble bees (Megabombus spp.), don't seem as attracted to milkweed as honey bees, but this one rested for quite awhile on that one flower yesterday morning, before flying off. I don't really have a favorite insect, but Megabombus is definitely my favorite genus name. Click on the photo and look at those hairs. Insect hair differs from mammalian hair in composition: Hair of the former is a polysaccharide called chitin, and that of the latter is a protein called keratin.
The two milkweed beetles, Tetraopes tetraophthamus, are embarking on the well worn path of passion to progeny. this beetle feeds on milkweed, and advertises its distastefulness with bright coloration like the monarch butterfly, whose larvae also feed on milkweed.
For a spectacular photo tour of the life cycle of common milkweed, see:
The close-ups at that link are amazing. Also some great info - Hope you check it out