A little amateur sleuthing … stress on amateur … leads me to think the little black ladybug-type insects crawling on my moonflower (ipomea Alba) vines are Heteroptera Pentatomoidea Thyreocoridae. How’s that for a mouthful?
They are commonly known as Black Bugs or Ebony Bugs – thank you BugGuide!
Never having noticed Black Bugs before, and anxiously awaiting for moonflower buds to appear , I was a little concerned. I first noticed one rapidly crawling on a leaf stem. On closer inspection toward the center of the towering mass of vines I found a bunch of the bugs congregating on an inner stem, almost as if they were having a strategy meeting. At the first sign of intrusion they scattered in multiple directions. They rarely stood still, making it very difficult to get a good sharp photo, and they absolutely refused to pose so I could catch the white striped markings on the rear upper body of some, but not others. Mostly the bugs are all black. Their upper shell shines like a ladybug’s, but it’s black. Total size is about half that a red and black ladybug.
I found a dead moonflower leaf with some insect eggs on the underside, but I’m not sure these belong to Black Bugs or another insect so I dug back into a childhood activity – catching bugs or bug eggs, placing them in a screw-top jar, and watching. But many of these particular eggs were already open, and the rest have not changed in the last few days so it looks like I missed the big event.
There is no sign that adult Black Bugs are eating the moonflower leaves or is looking to dine on any other bugs (aphids, for example). So, unless someone comes forward with more information on Black Bugs or a better idea of what my little bugs really are, I’m in a watch, wait, and wonder mode. Any ideas?
Peek back to see what last year’s moonflower vines looked like in full flower. I hope this year will be equally floriferous.