Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Two bugs (and part of a third) on a fading Texas thistle flower head

with 20 comments

Two Bugs on Fading Texas Thistle Flower Head 5167

The bug on the right appears to be Leptoglossus phyllopus, the eastern leaf-footed bug. I don’t know what the one on the left is, but perhaps it’s an earlier stage of the same species. Wikipedia notes that “This bug may enter houses when the weather turns colder and likes to make a home for itself in beds,” so happy snuggling this winter to those of you in its range. The flower head that seems to be fading before having opened is a Texas thistle, Cirsium texanum, which I hope you don’t find in your bed at any time of year. If you’d like a reminder of how pretty one of these thistles can be when it does flourish, you’re welcome to take a look.

I took this picture in Great Hills Park on June 20th during the same outing that brought you the picture of the strange Mexican hat with an extra set of ray flowers sprouting from the tip of its column.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 4, 2014 at 6:03 AM

20 Responses

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  1. As long as it’s not a biting bug, I would probably tolerate it in my bed. Now bed bugs….that’s another matter, and one that I have been unfortunate enough to experience.

    Gallivanta

    August 4, 2014 at 7:00 AM

  2. I can vouch for their entry into homes as winter approaches. None has made it into our bed yet. I encourage them to reside in the garage which is not warm but better than the frigid outdoors.

    Steve Gingold

    August 4, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    • I’m wondering how you encourage them to reside in the garage. Have you learned to speak Buggese?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 4, 2014 at 8:13 AM

      • I’ve tried a series of squeaks and scratchy sounds to no avail. So I gently escort them to other abodes.

        Steve Gingold

        August 4, 2014 at 8:18 AM

  3. Leaf-footed bugs, both of them methinks. They are ever-present in my tomato garden every August, less so in the cherry patch than the slicers (mental note taken). Thank goodness the fruits are dwindling. because the bugs are multiplying.

    I always enjoy your bug shots. Insects and flowers go together like, well, peas and carrots (if you’ll pardon the Gumpism).

    Shannon

    August 4, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    • Stay tuned, because I’ll have at least three more critter pictures over the next couple of weeks, including one of a juicy and ornate spider (I remember that you have a fondness for them and that you call them spideys).

      I don’t know about peas and carrots and Gumpisms, but little critters must have plenty of gumption because I find them on so many of the plants that I stop to photograph. Sometimes they end up taking pride of place over the plants that were my intended subjects.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 4, 2014 at 11:10 AM

  4. Bugs and thistles~ how fun is that! It is so cool to see the adaptations different bugs have. As for the thistle, beautiful. I’m on the hunt for Cirsium pitcheri, whose location is shrouded in secrecy. Orchids, I understand. But thistles? Really?

    melissabluefineart

    August 4, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    • I’m with you, Melissa, in enjoying little critters like these and therefore showing them from time to time. In terms of adaptations, I don’t know what purpose, if any, the leaf-like segments of these bugs’ legs serve, but they have a visual appeal.

      As for thistles, I’m with you again in finding appealing things in all their stages, from buds through flowers and on to chaotic decomposition (which I’ll have a picture of in about a week). I hadn’t heard of Cirsium pitcheri, but I looked it up and found it’s native to your area and is known as dune thistle. Good luck finding some. If you do, I expect we’ll see them turning up in some of your paintings.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 4, 2014 at 1:17 PM

  5. Love the combination of flower and bugs in the same frame! The image is superb with magnificent details! I say photography really opened up a whole new window into a wonderful world full of wonders!

    marksshoesbyevamarks

    August 4, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    • Flowers and bugs, bugs and flowers,
      I could show those two for hours.

      Yes, it’s quite a common combination out there in nature because for the most part the plants are the bugs’ homes (and often their sustenance). There’s also the reality that the number of insect species is much larger than the number of plant species, so when I get in close to photograph a flower I often find one or more kinds of critters there too. Variety, variety, variety.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 4, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      • Love your educational aspect of all your posts…it’s not all about the beauty of the nature…and that is why I like your site!

        marksshoesbyevamarks

        August 4, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        • You may have heard me say it before, but I’ll summarize my attitude again: once a teacher, always a teacher. I’ve come across many blogs that double as classrooms.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 4, 2014 at 1:57 PM

  6. I was sitting here wondering if that thistle was coming or going, and then I caught your comment that it seemed to be fading before opening. Ah, ha! This particular bug causes “piercing sucking injury” to everything from blueberries and other fruits to trees, nuts, and ornamentals. I wouldn’t be surprised if these bugs were doing more than just hanging around. They may have damaged the thistle by feeding.

    Something else I found on a Virginia Ag Extension site is that, “They have 5 instars in development. The leaf‐like hind tibia does not develop until the latter instars, at which time they also develop their adult coloration.” That supports your suggestion that the one on the left may be somewhat younger..

    As for that flight to the indoors in winter, every article I looked at said they emit a foul odor if disturbed. If they show up in bed, it might be wise to opt for the couch.

    (By the way — I spent most of Sunday down around Blessing and Palacios. The snow-on-the-mountain was beautiful and thick in some areas.)

    shoreacres

    August 4, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    • It’s fairly common for me to see flowers and flower heads that are fading without apparently ever having reached their prime. I’ve usually assumed that lack of water is the cause, but I think you’re right that insects must sometimes play a part too—and here we’re even seeing the likely culprits.

      Thanks for the link offering possible validation of my guess that the bug on the left is an earlier stage of the one on the right. I’ve read reports of the foul odor but have never experienced it. Maybe these bugs don’t consider a nature photographer enough of a threat to trigger that defense.

      Three days ago I saw and photographed my first snow-on-the-mountain flowers this year. A couple of weeks earlier I’d photographed some snow-on-the-prairie bracts but the flowers hadn’t appeared yet. Based on your report, we may have a good season ahead for snow-on-the-x.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 4, 2014 at 8:44 PM


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