Pale Green

Pay attention to what gets your attention.

~Gina Mollicone-Long

First, the answers to yesterdays Attention to Detail post… I’m sure many of you already knew the answers, but, just in case, here is what each of the images in yesterday’s post depicted:

  1. Sensitive Fern – the spore-containing capsules are round in this species.
  2. Foamflower – looking down at the spike of flowers of one of my springtime favorites.
  3. Silk highway left on a cherry tree trunk as a few hundred Eastern Tent Caterpillars venture out in search of feeding sites. They leave a trail of silk with chemical cues for others to follow to the best feeding areas.
  4. A twisted dried tendril from last year’s Muscadine Grape tangle on the fence.
  5. Looking down on some Flame Azalea buds about ready to burst into flower.
  6. Close up of a Dandelion puffball (seed head).
  7. A gathering of Eastern Tent Caterpillars on a Wild Cherry tree trunk.
  8. The tiny yellow flowers of Golden Alexander.
  9. The tip of a single flower on a Red Buckeye flower stalk.
  10. Larvae in a Spotted Salamander egg mass the day before they hatched.
  11. Cross Vine tendrils.
  12. An unopened flower bud of Dwarf Crested Iris.

Today was a truly beautiful day so I spent most of it outside doing some chores and just admiring the wildflowers. Surprisingly, not many photographs taken, so I am sharing something from a couple of days ago that I saw again this afternoon.

Pale green assassin bug on hickory bud

Nymph of a Pale Green Assassin Bug on a hickory bud (click photo to enlarge)

I spotted this little bug as I was walking past a hickory sapling. It seems I can’t walk by a leaf bud this time of year without pausing to glance to enjoy their amazing shapes and fullness as they prepare to burst. This one had a special treat, a tiny nymph of what I assumed was an assassin bug of some sort. I looked online and discovered it is most likely the nymph of a Pale Green Assassin Bug, Zelus luridus. Adults are a little over a half an inch long and prey on a variety of insects using that long beak to pierce them and suck out their fluids. But this group of assassins has a rather unique weapon in their bag of tricks – they secrete a viscous fluid from their front legs (and maybe also their second pair of legs), which helps secure their prey when they grab it. You can see a lot of pollen grains stuck to the legs (and other parts) of the nymph in the photo below.

Pale green assassin bug on hickory bud close up

Close up view showing the stalked hairs on the legs

I’m thinking this is not such a bad idea in these times of infrequent trips to the grocery store (our version of the assassin bug hunt). If you drop a cookie crumb it just sticks to your arm so you can retrieve it.



3 thoughts on “Pale Green

  1. I have a question for you Mike. In October when the warblers come to Jordan Lake, they feed almost exclusively on Assassin Bug larvae…the same species you so beautifully illustrated. Are there numerous broods of these bugs, because the ones we see in October are at the same stage of development as the ones you featured?

    • hmmm, I don’t know for sure. Different online resources give vague answers although it may depend on latitude. The adults are pretty darned similar looking, with maybe slightly darker areas where their wings are. Amazing that so may warblers are feeding on those!

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