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I won’t tell if you don’t

March 6, 2017

1-dscn3233Last week I was handed a large leaf of silverbeet. This is not so strange in a town where bartering back yard produce is the norm. However on the underside of the leaf was a striking group of insect eggs (picture left). The obvious question asked was What are they? and the predictable response from me was I don’t know.  I have a pretty good track record of identifying adult insects (Mr Google et al. help a lot). But I am less than successful with the identification of eggs, where the keywords are pretty and orange.

So I devised a devious plan. I would photograph the eggs under a microscope, hatch the caterpillars, feed them until they pupated and wait for the adults to emerge and then identify them – just like I used to do when I was a kid. The devious plan however, failed. The eggs hatched before my plan could (hatch that is). And what emerged were not caterpillars but larvae of an insect from the order Hemiptera (pictured right).

Hemipteran insects have sucking mouthparts which they use to extract the sap from leaves. They usually grow by ‘moulting’ through a series of larval states known as instars until they finally emerge as the adult. The trouble with my devious plan was that, whereas caterpillars can be fed leaves cut from the plant, I suspect these instars needed to feed on live leaves to get the sap.

b447-20170212_191629This resulted in devious plan #2. To ensure the young insects got a good food supply I had to find a nearby source of spinach – my wife’s prized vegetable garden. Under the cover of nightfall I carefully deposited the wilted spinach leaf and all the young into the middle of a healthy spinach plant in the aforementioned garden. After all how much sap could they suck? I have since checked the spinach and there is no evidence of the deed. I am hoping the young insects have found their way in life.

I won’t tell if you don’t.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. David Attaway permalink
    October 18, 2018 4:45 am

    I just found these on the underside of a collard leaf! Still don’t know what they are…Wondering if they are good or bad bugs!

    • David Attaway permalink
      October 18, 2018 5:13 am

      I found them!!! Southern Green Stink Bug eggs…

    • Ashley permalink
      August 10, 2022 12:36 pm

      Very bad bugs. It’s a miracle they didn’t kill his wife’s spinach


  1. I won’t tell – part II | Focus On Fauna
  2. The path to enlightenment is never smooth. | Focus On Fauna

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