Rob's plants
home garden plants wildlife seed photos
plant sale journal topics plantlinks fun guestbook

Beetles and bugs in our garden


Although to Amy just about all pictures on these pages feature "bugs", zoologically the only bugs are found here.
Attack of the killer bug! The wheelbug (Arilus cristatus) is a large member of the assassin bug family, named for the cog-like protrusion on its back. I found this one chomping down on some prey, clinging to the bottom of a leaf. arilus cristatus wheelbug
arilus cristatus wheelbug nymph This one is just a youngster (same species), but already looking plenty fierce with his red fang. I found him hiding in between some leaves on a young tree, in mid-June.
Another, smaller, assassin bug, on the lookout for flying snacks near a Mexican sunflower.
Laying in wait on or near flowers, ambush bugs (Phymata species) are ready to jump their unsuspecting prey. They take on insects several times their size (including wasps and butterflies), grabbing them with their strong foreclaws before paralyzing them with their bite. This one here is a girl (the stronger of the sexes, in ambush bugs). phymata ambush bug
Zelus longipes milkweed assassin bug

This is a milkweed assassin bug (Zelus longipes), showing off its powerful beak. It shares its orange-and-black color scheme with that of other insects frequenting milkweed plants (like the milkweed bugs below); I don't know if the latter is prey to the former...
Texas, October 2018

milkweed assassin bug: zelus longipes

This is an earlier nymph stage
(note the undeveloped wings)

...and here is one that has just secured some prey (a ladybird beetle, it appears). It was surpringly nimble at scurrying across foliage while holding on to its lunch as I was trying to take its photo for Instagram.
Texas, May 2022

Lygaeus kalmii: small milkweed bug Lygaeus kalmii: small milkweed bug

I found two of these colorful bugs crawling around the seedpods of my swamp milkweed. Sure enough, they are small milkweed bugs (Lygaeus kalmii), and belong to the 'seed bugs'. See, some things just all make sense :-) Years later and many states further south, I find that these bugs also favor my tropical milkweeds: quite a few of them were crawling around the flowers in mid-November, including the nymph shown at right.
Pennsylvania, August 2004 / Texas, November 2017

Oncopeltus fasciatus large milkweed bug

Continuing along with bugs that like to hang out on or near milkweeds, here's the large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus). Another seed bug, occurring through most of the temperate and warmer parts of North America, it feeds mostly on seeds, preferably of milkweeds, but also on some other plants. In the photo here, it was perched on dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium), but it wasn't feeding.

Poecilocapsus lineatus four-lined plant bug

These four-lined plant bugs (Poecilocapsus lineatus) appear on their favorite plants scattered across the garden in June. They seem to like fragrant plants – I found some on costmary, and others (like the one pictured here) on hyssop. They must like bubblegum and liquorice! They are shy: when they spot nearby activity (such as an approaching camera) they quickly trade their positions on the tops of leaves for ones on the undersides. Poecilocapsus lineatus four-lined plant bug nymph

This is an advanced-stage nymph of that four-lined plant bug, once again found on a fragrant plant (agastache), on a leaf where an adult was also scurrying around. They are right on schedule: eggs laid in summer overwinter inside stems of host plants and hatch in spring; nymphs pass through five instar stages in April-May. The one shown here is probably in its final instar.
Alydus: broad-headed bug This plant bug belongs to the genus Alydus, the broad-headed bugs. It feeds on plant juices. I found this one on a variegated lysimachia, on low-growing foliage.
One day in mid-August, preparing to take a picture of my pink glandularia flowers, I reached to flick off a speck of debris - and realized it wasn't debris, but a long slender bug. Upon closer inspection, it was a confluence of two bugs. Then I saw several more solo specimens on the same plant. They are some kind of stilt bug in genus Jalysus. stiltbugs mating
Boisea trivittata: Eastern box elder bug nymph


Ben found this bug scurrying around our patio. It's a nymph of the Eastern box elder bug (Boisea trivittata), which is interesting, because I don't know of any box elders around. Maybe it likes one of the other Acer species in our garden. You can tell he's a youngster, because he has just stubs where the wings will be in the adult stage. Baby box-elder bugs are all red, while adults have just a few red markings left. Neurocolpus: plant bug


A good example of a bug that looks much cooler when magnified than with the bare eye! This is a plant bug in the genus Neurocolpus. I found several of them making their way along a hardy hibiscus (the one in the photo is sitting on a hibiscus bud). Phytocoris: plant bug

Another plant bug, this one in genus Phytocoris, found lounging on a red currant shrub in late June. waterstrider: gerris

A couple of waterstriders (species Gerris) on the edge of a waterlily pad, trying to ensure the survival of the species. With plenty of predators around, let's hope their offspring is numerous!

spot-sided coreid: Hypselonotus punctiventris

This sharp-looking dandy is a spot-sided coreid (Hypselonotus punctiventris), a member of the clan of leaf-footed bugs, even though this species doesn't possess the broadened femur features typical of that clan. It was perching possessively on an oxypetalum flower one afternoon in late November. The species is common from the southern United States down to Central America. It feeds on plants; its favorites are in the mallow family, but our garden offers few choices in that botanical corner, so I guess it made do with a milkweed relative.
Texas, November 2017

Florida leaf-footed bug: Acanthocephala femorata Another leaf-footed bug, this one a bit larger than the one above. It's a Florida leaf-footed bug (Acanthocephala femorata), noted for its beefy spiked femurs, and occurring in the southern US. I found this one on a stepping stone by our pond, not too far from a satsuma orange (it reportedly liked citrus). I nudged it with my finger to get a better camera angle. Afterwards, I noticed a heavy perfumey scent on my finger. Some research told me that this is a defense mechanism: the bugs squirt an odorous liquid from their sides when harrassed. To me, it wasn't really a bad smell (one scientific paper suggests it may be trans-2-hexenal, which is a fragrance/flavor compound), but I guess to its predators it is.
Texas, December 2017

Eastern leaf-footed bug: Leptoglossus phyllopus

Sticking with the leaf-footed bugs for just another minute, let's take a look at the Eastern leaf-footed bug (Leptoglossus phyllopus), which is distinguished by its straight white (or pale yellow) line across its back. I found a bunch of them crawling all around the flowers of our red yucca plant in mid-June, a banquet and orgy all wrapped up in one. Indeed yuccas are reported to be among their favorite plants to hang out on in the western part of their range.
Texas, June 2018 Eastern leaf-footed bug: Leptoglossus phyllopus

Four years later, I didn't recognize this as a representative of the same species: it looks quite different in side view. Also, not on yucca this time around, but still with leafy feet.
Texas, May 2022 Texas bowlegged bug: Hyalymenus tarsatus

This Texas bowlegged bug (Hyalymenus tarsatus) was lounging on the window above our poinsettia plants – which makes some sense, because euphorbias are among its favorite food. It belongs to the broadheaded bugs, and remains active year-round in Texas.
Texas, December 2017

green lacewing eggs: Chrysopidae

I found this circular formation of neatly arranged white eggs on stilts on the underside of a live oak leaf on autumn afternoon. My friends at BugGuide say it's hatched green lacewing eggs (Chrysopidae). They're good guys, so I hope the little ones survived!
Texas, October 2016

procession of bug nymphs

It's hard to tell from this photo, but these bug nymphs were so small that I couldn't tell what they were until I looked at the photo closeup. They have likely just hatched from eggs laid on the columbine they were traversing, but I don't know if the brown structures they are marching across are such eggs. In any case, I like the picture.
Texas, May 2022


Very recognizable because of their distinctive shape, these bugs come in many color patterns and sizes. I've collected snapshots of a few of the ones found in our garden, just so you can admire them up close without fear of malodor.
This colorful little bug was hiding deep inside an agastache flowerspike. Although I had tentatively identified it as the last nymph stage (5th instar) of Nezara hilaris, a better fit may be the 3rd instar of a species of Euschistus.
And this is probably the adult form of the little one above. This green stinkbug was lounging on a pear in our orchard.

Another plentiful stinkbug in our garden is the twice-stabbed stinkbug (Cosmopepla lintneriana). This one, too, is rather fond of agastache flowerspikes. The adult is small, about 1/8" (3 mm).
brown marmorated stinkbug halyomorpha halys
In its own way, this stinkbug is kind of handsome, too. Unfortunately, it's the brown marmorated stinkbug (Halyomorpha halys), an agricultural pest from East Asia that was first found in the US in 2001, of all places in Allentown.
brown marmorated stinkbug nymph
This one looks different, but is actually a nymph (juvenile stage) of the marmorated stinkbug at left.
brown marmorated stinkbug: Halyomorpha halys (teneral form)

And this is yet another individual of the same species - in this case a newly emerged adult, who hasn't yet attained his mature coloration - a teneral form, in entomological terms. stinkbug: Banasa dimiata

Another smaller stinkbug species, Banasa dimiata occurs through most of North America. Its coloration depends on the season. This one is plotting its escape from a plastic sand bucket, into which it was captured by my enterprising son Ben. stinkbug nymphs

Amy spotted a cluster of these little guys on the underside of a Japanese maple leaf. They were so tightly and geometrically arranged, and sitting so still, they looked like a cluster of eggs. But as soon as they were exposed to the sunlight, they started to scatter, only to huddle again when a suitable cover was returned. My friends at BugGuide reckon they are stinkbug nymphs, but the species has not yet been decided. stinkbug nymph

And this is an even earlier stage of some stinkbug (Pentatomid, as the entomologists call them). It was so little, I thought it was a tick, until close-up inspection of the photograph revealed that that "fourth pair of legs" was really its antennae.


A rather diverse gang – one day I'll read up on them and figure out what makes a beetle a beetle and a bug a bug. For now, just some photos: Disonycha glabrata: flea beetle

This colorful one is adept at skeletonizing the plants it feeds on – it's a pigweed flea beetle (Disonycha glabrata). I always associated flea beetles with the much smaller black hopping things that decimate my eggplants in early summer (Epitrix fuscula), but I learned that they are a much more diverse group of insects.
Pennsylvania, July 2014

Disonycha leptolineata: striped flea beetle

Looking very much like the pigweed-dweller above, this is a related species of striped flea beetle, Disonycha leptolineata, with a dandy red rim around its striped wings. It likes different host plants for its larvae (I found it in some skullcap, which is likely not such a host plant). I suspect the gray critter on its back is just an unwitting aphid passenger, rather than some kind of parasite.
Texas, June 2022
Ain't it marvellous? A bright shiny pink thing on a very spiny solanum branch. According to the friendly folks at BugGuide, this is a potato beetle larva. pink potato beetle larva
leptinotarsa juncta false potato beetle The next year, I found more of the larvae - and also a few adult specimens. Further research told me that these are in fact false potato beetles (species Leptinotarsa juncta) recognizable by brown stripes interrupting the white and black ones.
Photinus pyralis: firefly

Every year in late June and July, fireflies light up the garden. They're easy to catch when they're active at dusk, but in the dark you never get a good look. So I didn't recognize this one when I found it in broad daylight on a pepper plant in the veggie garden. Pretty handsome beetle, this Photinus isopyralis, don't you think? Calopteron discrepans: net-winged beetle

I spotted this darling couple on a pinellia plant in late May. I must admit I had no idea what I was looking at: bugs, beetles, or even moths? Turns out they were net-winged beetles, species Calopteron discrepans, not too distant relatives of that firefly above.. I don't know if the boys are always smaller than the girls, or if this particular pair was simply a case of "opposites attract".

Plagiodera versicolora leaf beetle

This willow leaf beetle (probably Plagiodera versicolora) was a real little guy. It's hard to tell from the photo, but he had a quite vivid dark metallic blue-green color. harmonia axyridis asian lady beetle

Asian lady beetles (Harmonia axyridis) just love our empress tree, probably because the aphids like it too. fourteen-spotted ladybird beetle: propylea quatordecimpunctata

Another non-native ladybug (it hails from Eurasia), this is the "fourteen-spotted lady beetle" (Propylea quatuordecimpunctata), characterized by its rectangular spots (which take on quite a few different appearances, as evidenced by their Bugguide page. shortbanded spurleg ladybird beetle: brachiacantha subfasciata

I found this small ladybird beetle on my yucca in late spring. Although it has several two-spotted lookalike species, this is a shortbanded spurleg (Brachiacantha subfasciata), found in the southwestern United States and Mexico.
Texas, May 2022 carpet beetle: Anthrenus verbasci

This tiny thing (less than half the size of the lady beetles above) is a varied carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), so named for the tendency of its larval stage to eat woollen rugs while a house guest. This individual, however, was outside, perched on the edge of an anemone petal. It flew away before I could get a better photo.

three-lined potato beetle: Lema daturaphila

Small but colorful beetle, spotted on a purple coneflower. It appears to be a three-lined potato beetle (Lema daturaphile), which may mean that my potato plants, just a long hop away from the flower border, are under attack. Labidomera clivicollis: swamp milkweed leaf beetle

Found this twosome carousing on a milkweed plant one evening in early June. I learned that they are swamp milkweed leaf beetles (Labidomera clivicollis). Their chosen host in fact was not a swamp milkweed, but close enough. They are apparently part of a milkweed-related mimicry complex, along with the milkweed bug above, the red milkweed beetle below, and several other insects.
Another asclepias-dweller, this dandy is a longhorn beetle, more specifically a red milkweed beetle ( Tetraopes tetrophthalmus). In late June, our swamp milkweed flowers were full of them. red milkweed beetle: tetraopes tetrophthalmus
All of a sudden one nice day in late summer, there were dozens of these orange fellas hovering around. Turns out they are goldenrod soldier beetles, or Pennsylvania leatherwings (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus). While we have a good supply of goldenrod in our garden, our visitors seemed to prefer our culinary herbs. Gourmand beetles - go figure.
Chauliognathus marginatus: margined leatherwing

A similar species to the one above, margined leatherwings (Chauliognathus marginatus) fly earlier in the year (May-July) and have a band instead of a spot on their pronotum (the collar-like bit between their heads and their wings). The ones pictured here were ensuring survival of the species on a lovage flowerhead. Mordellochroa: tumbling flower beetle

During a few days in mid-June, the flowers on a goat's rue growing in a mostly shaded area of the garden were just crawling (literally) with these black insects. They belong to the class of tumbling flower beetles, most likely the gold-shouldered mordellid (Mordellochroa scapularis), which occurs in a large swath of central and eastern North America.

Oncideres pustulata: huisache girdler

Behold the huisache girdler! A member of the flatfaced longhorned beetles, and one of three species of twig girdlers native to Texas, who has a very destructive notion of child-rearing. They're such interesting characters that I gave them their own page with lots more details and photos.

click beetle: conoderus lividus


This is one of many varieties of click beetle, so named because it can snap itself upright from an upside-down position. Adults live mostly on plants, so it makes sense that we found this specimen on some curly endive I brought in from the garden. Its antennae are folded in close to its body in this picture.
The beetle I least like to see in our garden - the one that defoliates quite a wide range of plants in mid-summer: the Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica). We really haven't tried to fight them: The milky spore fungus is a natural control that attacks the white grubs overwintering in the lawn, but takes a few years to become effective and is expensive for the expanse of grass we'd have to cover. Grub control chemicals seem like overkill, counter to our mostly organic gardening approach, and I'd be afraid they'd kill beneficials as well. The pheromone traps are controversial - do they help, or do they merely attract more of the nemeses to the gardens they're in? So we don't do much more than make rounds of the garden once in a while, knocking however many of them as we can manage into a bucket of water. Hardly very effective...
cucumber beetle Diabrotica undecimpunctata The spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) is usually found on flowers, in this case red flax.
Plagiometriona clavata: clavate tortoise beetle

I found two of these odd-looking creatures on a damaged eggplant leaf one day in mid-August. When they moved around, they waved the brown appendage on their tail about - but mostly they just sat still. They are the nymph stage of Plagiometriona clavata, the clavate tortoise beetle. The brown bit is in fact attached excrement, which it uses to hide itself from would-be predators. Staphylinid (rove beetle) larva

Found several of these tiny things crawling around in decaying matter. Turns out they are rove beetle (staphylinid) larvae. Rove beetles are a large family of the beetles. Atlhough I've probably encountered adult forms, I've yet to take a picture of one.


These scurriers with odd-looking antennae are members of the beetle order (coleoptera). I haven't found many so far, and most of those have been tiny.
cucumber beetle Merhynchites bicolor I'm pretty sure this is a rose curculio (Merhynchites bicolor). It fits, because I found them all over our Virginia rose in late June. It's classified with the leafrolling weevils, but I saw no evidence of that behavior (lots of procreation, though).
A bunch of these tiny grey weevils were feasting on hollyhock leaves. I tried to get a better picture, but it's hard to focus a camera up close to a running bug! leaf weevil

Visitors to this page have left the following comments


I welcome comments about my web pages; feel free to use the form below to leave feedback about this particular page. For the benefit of other visitors to these pages, I will list any relevant comments you leave, and if appropriate, I will update my page to correct mis-information. Note that I discard any comments including html markups, so please submit your comment as plain text. If you have a comment about the website as a whole, please leave it in my guestbook. If you have a question that needs a personal response, please e-mail me.

Your name

Your comments