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Aphid-munching larva

Aphid-munching larva
Oak Ridge, Anderson County, Tennessee, USA
September 3, 2008
Size: 1 cm
My milkweed plants have not yielded the monarch caterpillars that I had hoped to see this year, but they have offered a variety of other interesting creatures. This evening I found this spiky larva munching on aphids. It quickly drained the fluids from the aphid, leaving just the white exoskeleton. I was amused to watch another aphid walking on it as it ate one of its relatives! Does anyone know what type of larva this is? I've seen syrphid fly larvae on the leaves, but they are smooth, not spiky like this one. They also eat aphids.


We would suggest rather
a syrphid fly larva. Here's a member of the Syrphidae - and a pageful here

I agree this is a syrphid larva. I really get a kick out of the one aphid that found the safest place on the leaf: riding atop the predator! LOL! One small step for aphid, one giant leap for evolution?:-)

Thanks Eric, John and Jane!
My milkweed has been a source of "entomological entertainment" this summer, despite not having any monarchs. There is always something interesting happening on the leaves, flowers, and pods. It would a fun project to document all the different insects that are found on milkweed for a year. I just wish I had more powerful macro photography capability.

I'm not sure about it being a ladybird larva
All the ladybird larvae I've seen have legs and three distinctive body parts, this larva doesn't. There are many different species of ladybirds on the milkweed, so maybe it is one I haven't seen before. Whatever it is, it sure has a voracious appetite! It ate 2 aphids as I was photographing it! I'll have to watch it and see if it pupates soon.

one of the ladybirds. I know they are aphid eaters.

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