Thistle herbivores

I’ve often focused on pollinators in the past, but I’m trying to expand my expertise to other kinds of interactions, including trophic interactions (consumer/consumed). These antagonistic interactions are very common, obviously, and well studied. This summer, I’m working with some undergraduates and high school students to learn more about the herbivores that feed on thistles. At the same time, we will look at their mutualistic interactions with pollinators. Our plan is to construct a community of interactions, the heart of which is our study species: the thistle.
Carduus nutans
Carduus nutans
An attractive thistle Carduus nutans

Here are some examples of the common herbivores we’ve found so far…
Soldier Beetle
Margined Leatherwing Chauliognathus marginatus
Soldier Beetle larvae
Soldier Beetle larvae
I think this is Copecrypta ruficauda (a parasitoid of cutworm larvae and pupae)
Rhinocillus conicus
An introduced biocontrol weevil, Rhinocillus conicus
Rhinocillus conicus
These guys can do an amazing amount of damage to the seed heads
Not an herbivore, but one of the many crab spiders that hunt the herbivores on the thistle
Thistle Tortoise Beetle
Our lovely poop parasol friends (they actually do a lot of damage)
Thistle Tortoise Beetle
The adult thistle tortoise beetles
Spittle bug
Spittle bugs
Spittle bug
Baby spittle bug
Treehopper Entylia carinata


3 thoughts on “Thistle herbivores

  1. Wow! Who would have thought thistles could be so beautiful! (farmer haha) and what an amazing community of species living there! Maybe Disney or Pixar will make their next animated film on a thistle! Seriously you are doing a lot to educate me and probably many on the small world that exists in our big world all around us. Thank you very much for sharing that, you passion is absolutely contagious. Keep up the great work!

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