I ran into a couple mysteries this week. I enjoy mysteries, whether they get solved or not, but I’m wondering if maybe we can crowd source answers to both of these. Stay tuned to the comments section for potential answers, and add your own suggestion if you have one.
First, when I was out at our family prairie last week, I found something interesting along the edge of our wetland.
Something is helping us control our invasive bullfrog population, which I’m grateful for, but I’d like to know who to thank! What kind of creature would pick up a full sized bullfrog, move it to the top of a nearby fence post and eat it? The remains of another frog were on the next post over from this one, so it’s not an isolated event. I’m thinking it has to be a bird, and a large one at that. Herons like to eat frogs, but as far as I know, they leave the remnants floating in the water. Do hawks eat frogs? Owls? Osprey?
The second mystery is a little different, and I’ve already had help solving part of it. I’ve been walking past a couple New Jersey tea plants recently (on the way to my square meter photography project site). Each time, I’ve noticed a particular kind of insect hanging around on and near the flowers. The way the bugs (because they are clearly Hemipterans – true bugs) are sitting poised and apparently waiting for something, I’ve been assuming they are predators.
I recognized the bugs but didn’t know what they were. They reminded me of leaf-footed bugs, but instead of the flattened “leaf” structure being on their legs, this bug had them on its antennae. I submitted the above photo to Bugguide and got a quick response, identifying it as a Euphorbia bug (Chariesterus antennator) – a kind of leaf-footed bug, after all. That was easy, but my next step was to try to learn more about it, and that’s where I got stuck.
I found information on a couple other leaf-footed bugs, but not the Euphorbia bug. It appears most leaf-footed bugs are plant feeders, with some doing minor damage to crops or garden plants. Photos of the Euphorbia bug I can find on the internet often show it on Euphorbia plants (spurges), which makes sense, but I can’t find anything that says it actually feeds on spurge plants themselves. Maybe that’s a favorite plant, but not its only food source?
So, I want to know what Euphorbia bugs eat. Are they predators that hang out on plants waiting for opportunities to catch prey? Or are they plant feeders that may or may not prefer spurge species? While we’re at it, what do their larvae feed on? Where do they live? Is there anything else interesting about them? Mysteries.