Sunday, September 27, 2009

Large Milkweed Bugs

Large Milkweed Bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) on milkweed at Griggstown Grasslands Preserve.

I am so used to seeing these and other milkweed insects on milkweed in early and midsummer that I was somewhat surprised to find them yesterday. This plant, like most of the milkweed plants at Griggstown, has already started to die back and release its seeds. One thing that struck me as I was looking at these bugs is how much they resemble the milkweed seeds, in shape if not in color. When I first glanced at the plant I dismissed these two as stray seeds, at least before I took a closer look.

There was much fewer birds around than I had hoped. Crews were mowing the fields, which may have suppressed some activity. I had also hoped for some mid-morning hawk migration, but overcast skies shut down most movement during the morning. However, there were a variety hawks present – not just the resident Red-tailed Hawk, but also a few Cooper's Hawks, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and a Northern Harrier. There latter three species were not apparent at the grasslands during my walks there over the summer, so it seems that these are recent arrivals.