On the Asclepias Buffet

20150623-20150623-_DSC0134The milkweeds sure do attract visitors.  Pleased to discover a very small stand of swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) in an easily accessible area, I decided to stay awhile to see who came by. Here are some of the insects I saw on it.


This is a pearl crescent butterfly, Phyciodes tharos, a member of the brushfoot family (Nymphalidae).  20150623-20150623-_DSC0105

See the blurry orange thing in the foreground?


That’s an assassin bug (species unknown, family Reduviidae). They sometimes hide in flowers, but more often actively hunt their prey*.  They use their rostrums to inject prey with salvia, which then liquefies the victim’s insides so that the bug can suck them out.

I have a sudden, strange urge to watch Starship Troopers again.

In less gruesome news, the milkweeds were also attracting the bees.


I have no way to identify the species of this bumblebee (family Bombidae).

[edited to add: see comments]

*Encyclopedia of Life

2 thoughts on “On the Asclepias Buffet

  1. Elizabeth, I think you’ll find that the last insect is not a Bumblebee. In fact, it may not be a Bee. It appears to have one pair of wings but it’s not clear. If it has only one pair of wings, it’s a Bee Fly in the Order Diptera, Family Bombylliidae. If it has two pairs of wings, it’s in another family in the Order Hymenoptera.

  2. Joe, I had wondered about that, so asked on an internet ID group. Didn’t get much response other than “maybe Bombidae”. I looked again at all my photos in Lightroom, so I could zoom in, and I expect that you’re right about it being in the order Diptera. I just don’t know enough and don’t have enough information to say.

    I really appreciate when people point these things out – it’s the best way for me to learn.

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