Feed on

During Spring Break Jonathan Wright, Harsi Parker, and I spent an afternoon at the BFS documenting and photographing arthropods. It will take a while to figure out the identity of all the interesting insects we found, but we’ve now idenitified the first two and added them to the BFS Invert List:

  1. Zelus renardii – Leafhopper Assassin Bug

    Zelus renardii, Leafhopper Assassin Bug, on Yerba Santa at the BFS. Photo ©2010 Harsi S. Parker.

    The aptly named Leafhopper Assassin Bug often waits in hiding and ambushes its prey. It then pierces the prey with its ‘beak’ (as seen in the photo below) and pumps immobilizing substances and digestive enzymes into the hapless victim. The enzymes dissolve the prey’s internal tissues, and the Leafhopper Assassin Bug sucks up the liquified innards. Yummy!


    Zelus renardii, Leafhopper Assassin Bug, piercing a beetle. Photo ©2010 Jonathan Wright.

    The Leafhopper Assassin Bug preys not only on Leafhoppers, but on a broad range of insects. The one shown above is dining on some sort of beetle. Because Leafhopper Assassin Bugs destroy insects that eat plants, they are considered beneficial in the garden. They, can however, give a nasty ‘bite’ to humans, piercing the skin with their beak. Although they don’t produce a toxin per se, the digestive enzymes will kill a small area of cells near the site of injection.

  2. Bagrada hilaris – Bagrada Bug

    Bagrada hilaris on a Eucalyptus stump near the classroom. Photo ©2010 Jonthan Wright.

    The Bagrada Bug, also called the Harlequin Bug, is sometimes mistaken for a ladybug, but it’s anything but! This invasive African native was only introduced into the U.S. in 2008, when it was found in Pasadena. By 2009, the Bagrada Bug had spread widely throughout Los Angles and Orange Counties and been found in San Diego County (see map), and as of March 2010, the Bagrada Bug has spread to Ventura and Imperial counties as well as Yuma County, Arizona. Bagrada Bug is a major pest of crop plants in the Brassicaceae, and the levels of damage have been seen in organically-grown fields, community gardens, and residential gardens. No biological controls are known — so far, only chemical pesticides have been found to be effective. I guess we can only hope it will preferentially eat up our invasive mustards.

Sources and more information:

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