Signs of Life on a Passionflower Vine

Jan 21, 2014

If you have a passionflower vine (Passiflora), check to see what insects or stages of insects are making this plant their home. 

A frost-bitten passionflower vine on a front porch near downtown Vacaville, Solano County, last weekend still contained a number of Gulf Fritillary caterpillars, some viable chrysalids, and some empty paper-thin chrysalids fluttering in the wind. The passionflower vine is the host plant of the Gulf Fritillary,  Agraulis vanillae. These colorful reddish-orange butterflies lay their eggs on this plant, and the resulting larvae or caterpillars skeletonize the leaves. 

But wait! What's that on that dangling seed pod?

Could it be? It was. A leaffooted bug or coreid (family Coreidae, suborder Heteroptera).

The bug is so named because of its leaf-like tibia or hind legs.  Leaffooted bugs seem to prefer developing fruit, such as tomatoes and peaches, as well as seeds. They also are pests in almond and pistachio orchards. Folks in the Deep South see them on the seeds of black-eyed peas.

"They feed by piercing plant parts with their elongate beaks and sucking out the juices," wrote authors/entomologists Jerry Powell and Charles Hogue in their book, California Insects (University of California Press).

This one was draped on a seed pod, not moving much. That would come later.