Friday, October 5, 2012

Tough Life For A Milkweed: Aphis nerii & Oncopeltus fasciatus

September 2nd, 2012. It was the Labor Day (US) holiday weekend so we took the opportunity to make an overnight trip into the Chattahoochee National Forest. After making our way out of the Coopers Creek Wildlife Management Area, we drove up to Blue Ridge for the night. We retraced our way up the Noontootla River Valley through the Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area as we had in mid-December 2011. We hadn’t seen many wildflowers on that trip. We saw a variety of wildflowers on this trip. The first section of the trip was on the Forest Service road to the junction with the road to the Appalachian Trail parking area below Springer Mountain. Then we drove out to the Appalachian Trail about half-a-mile north of it’s origin on the top of Springer Mountain.

We found more milkweed plants like those we had seen on the road along the Noontootla River. The plants in the valley had been growing in the shade. Even then I could see some aphids on the seed pods but couldn’t reach the plants because of a deep ditch between the road and the embankment.  But here, the plants were growing in full sun and we could walk up to the plants. We found not only aphids but milkweed bugs.

Aphis nerii (Oleander or Milkweed Aphid)
This is the first time I’ve seen the Oleander/Milkweed Aphid

The aphids covered large areas on some seed pods

A closer view. 

Still closer. For some really close-up photos, click here
Oncopeltus fasciatus (Large Milkweed Bug)
I’ve seen and photographed Large Milkweed bugs before but this is the first time I’ve seen the nymphs clustered like this.

A single cluster of nymphs at the base of a leaf

One brave little soul which had climbed up to the top of a stem

It's a tough life for a milkweed plant.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Identification resources:
- Name that Plant: Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Asclepias exaltata (Poke Milkweed, Tall Milkweed)
- Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium: Asclepias exaltata (Poke Milkweed, Tall Milkweed)
University of Florida/Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: Aphis nerii (Oleander Aphid) 

United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database:

Related posts:
- Over The Hills And Through The Woods: Noontootla Creek AndSpringer Mountain

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