the bug that laid the silver eggs

Last year, some of you may remember that I wrote a series of posts about a cluster or silver eggs found on a milkweed leaf on June 13th (see image of eggs below). About a week later, the eggs began to hatch, and several of us discussed the “blue lining” seen on some of those eggs. I wrote a follow-up report about the eggs here. As you will recall, the eggs were identified as being those of some species of predacious Stink Bug — a group commonly referred to as Spined Soldier Bugs for their pointed “shoulders”.

Yesterday, just by chance, I happened to catch sight of one of these Stink Bugs laying its silvery, spined eggs on a Solidago leaf along one of the trails in the poplar woods. These bugs aren’t that easy to ID to genus, but my guess is that it’s either a species of Apateticus or Podisus. Anyhow, it was neat to be able to link the insect to the eggs, and to be able to record this in photographs. So often, I find insect eggs, but am not able to figure out who they belong to unless I happen to find the hatchlings at a later date. However, the emerging larvae are usually so different from their adult form that I may still have no clue as to their identity. It’s always nice to be able to sort out that connection by capturing photos of the female laying her eggs. Now, I’ll try to observe them over the next while to learn how long it takes before the first of them begins to hatch.

By the way, for those who are new to reading my blog, one of my interests is phenology – the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to insects and spiders. The above example of the Stink Bug eggs provides a nice opportunity to compare some observations from year to year. Last year’s eggs began to hatch on June 20th. I have a feeling that this year’s eggs may hatch a little sooner. I’ll try to provide an update when that event occurs.

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18 Responses to “the bug that laid the silver eggs”

  1. DougT Says:

    On the closeup of the eggsm all I can say is wow. Are you using some kind of extender tube to get that level of macrophotography? Color me vivid green.

  2. bev Says:

    Doug – No, I just shoot with the camera as it is. Both of those were shot with my trusty old Nikon CP4500. I do most of my shooting with a Nikon CP8800, but when I want to photograph something very small, I use the CP4500. I’ve done a little experimenting shooting using a 15X loupe – a fairly inexpensive thing – but I don’t think I used it for the shot of the eggs. That was just taken by bending the leaf and shooting on an angle toward the eggs using the CP4500. It’s got a swivel-body, so I can twist the camera so that I can keep an eye on the LCD screen while getting the angle of the leaf right to shoot photos.

  3. robin andrea Says:

    I remember those silver eggs. How very cool that you found the bug in action, laying those eggs. Quite a find, Bev. I love that close-up of the spiny edges. They are just as other-worldly beautiful as I remembered them! Looking forward to your updates on these creatures.

  4. DougT Says:

    Thanks. I keep wanting to improve my photography skills. What I really need is to just keep practicing. By the way, I’ve been poking around you site a bit and noticed the citizen science link. Thanks so much for putting that in. I’m the director of the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network. We appreciate the plug.

  5. Dave Says:

    Hi Bev & company,

    I found the blog while searching on jumping spiders! What a terrific photo. I’m looking forward to seeing and learning more. Have a great weekend…


  6. Ruth Says:

    What unexpected beauty. The eggs look like pearls.

  7. Cathy Says:

    There – you’ve done it again. I’m slack-jawed with wonder. I’m so grateful that you keep introducing us to nature’s minuscule miracles.

  8. celeste Says:

    That is so cool! (they make me think of that cartoon show “Ahh! Real Monsters!”) Maybe a simple grey ball would have done for an egg, but nature decided to make it a pearly golf ball with eyelashes!! Mkes you wonder what else is out there, eh?!

  9. Wayne Says:

    I’m with Robin on the elegance of those eggs.

    As well, with the elegance of timely observations to make the connections between eggs, larvae, and adults. Good luck on that – it’s much more satisfactory than grinding them up for DNA fingerprint ;-)

  10. Xris (Flatbush Gardener) Says:

    I remember those eggs from last year, too. I think I had just discovered your blog, and it was one of your first posts which I read.

    So this becomes blog phenology: what I’m reading from year to year, and how I can mark the year by who’s writing about what.

  11. bev Says:

    robin – It was fun seeing the eggs being laid this time. It was one of those “hoped for” type of images that you wonder if you’ll ever get. Now, I just hope I can re-find the eggs again as they are very small!

    Doug – With insect photography, I think it really does come down to practice. I’ve taken a staggering number of photos over the past 4 years or so and keep learning new tricks and improving my technique. The nice think about photographing insects is that there are lots of subjects hanging out in the garden, fields and woods just waiting for someone to come along and take their picture! That’s neat to hear that you’re the director of the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network. I’m a great believer in the value of citizen science type projects to get people involved in nature observation and conservation.

    Dave – Thanks! Glad you found your way to my blog. Have a good weekend too — hope you see some good insects and spiders! (-:

    Ruth – The eggs are quite unique, aren’t they? The first time I photographed them and saw them “up close” on my LCD screen, I remember thinking, “Whoa!! What are these?!!”

    Cathy – Yes, they’re pretty incredible, aren’t they? It’s fun to be able to keep bringing interesting things here to show to everyone. I wonder when nature will run out of surprises??? (o:

    Celeste – That’s what I always try to keep thinking – “What else is out there?” I have an idea that I ain’t seen nothin’ yet! (-:

    Wayne – Yes, I prefer the patient observation approach over the grinding up approach. With the insects and spiders, I ‘ve found that the answers to many mysteries are eventually revealed if I just keep watching.

    Xris – Hey! Now that’s an interesting thought.. blog phenology!

  12. Laura Says:

    They do look like pearls, as Ruth said. Still amazed with the small beautiful things you capture with your camera.

  13. Mark Says:

    What an amazing situation to come across! Definitely some of the most unique looking eggs I have ever seen. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Dave Says:

    Amazing photos, as always.

  15. Peter Says:

    Thanks for following up on last years article. It was a good mystery and example of how great the net is to answer questions. Love the new photos too :-)

  16. bev Says:

    Laura – I continue to be amazed by the tiny things that exist and that go unnoticed. I guess that’s why I enjoy macro photography so much.

    Mark – “Unique” is exactly the word for them!

    Dave – Thanks!

    Peter – It really was so nice to find this insect in the process of laying eggs. I did find another species of stink bug (non predatory) laying eggs last summer, but the eggs were without the little spines. I just found another cluster of the spined eggs yesterday, but no insect in sight!

  17. Jen Says:

    I too just caught a green stink bug laying some tiny yellow eggs in clusters on our new screen door. That bug sure was busy. Are the bugs pests or should I leave them alone?

  18. bev Says:

    Jen – Stink bugs are relatively innocuous as insects go. They don’t usually bother with humans and the predaceous ones are mainly interested in hunting down other insects. That said, I suspect they would be capable of inflicting a painful bite with their stabbing proboscis if they chose to do so. I’ve never been bothered by them even though I spend a lot of time around all insects. However, I was once stabbed near the collarbone by the similar mouthpiece of a Phymata (ambush bug) and that really hurt for about an hour and I had a big lump where I was bitten (that didn’t go away for at least 3 weeks). I think the bug got inside my shirt what I was photographing a spider – sort of an accident – but it did bite me. Last summer, someone posted a note on my blog saying that he had also received a painful bite from a Phymata. So far, no one has mentioned being bitten by a stink bug, so maybe they aren’t so inclined to bite people.