There are times in Arizona's Sonoran Desert when cacti and agaves are about the only juicy things for a bug to suck on. Cactus specialists among the hemipterans can be found during all seasons, even reproducing in the middle of winter.
The species of the coreid (leaf-footed bug) genus Narnia specialize on different cacti. Some of them can be found on Prickly Pear, another that seems to be undescribed so far, prefers Saguaros.
Two more coreid species Chelinidea vittiger and C. hunteri also frequent our succulents. Their contrasting wing vein pattern and subtile coloring remind me of my grandmother's Art Deco jewlery.
The nymphs with their thick antennae seem more in the style of children's plastic toys. Parental guarding is common in these bugs.
A couple of days ago I found the odd looking Merocoris sp., also a Coreid, on an Engleman's Prickly Pear in our back yard. It can't be an obligatory cactus feeder, because it also occurs in the Sonoita Grasslands where there is hardly any cactus. But it was definitely sucking from the succulent little leaf remenant on the Opuntia bud.
Some Stinkbugs or Pentatomids also have cactus as a preferred host plant, like these Chlorochroa opuntiae. The little congregtion below was photographed in September 2010 in the Saguaro Monument West in the Tucson Mountains. The individual below was feeding on a Cane Cholla in our backyard (bajada of the same mountains) on March 29, 2011.
|Zelus renardii, Leafhopper, Assassin Bug|
|Small Milkweed Bugs Lygaeus kalmii|