I was out in our garden yesterday collecting Monarch butterfly eggs (found twelve of them). The photo above shows the surprise I found under one leaf. I came back later after she had finished to get this photo of the cluster of eggs: (click both images for fullscreen)
She appears to me to be from the group of true "bugs" but I don't know her precise identity. I suppose I could search on BugGuide, but instead I'll leave it open for the readership to ponder. Some reader out there will be knowledgeable enough to offer a proper name that I can put in the title.*
*solved by readers bucaneer, Shrike, and William D. Richards, who recognized it as an assassin bug:
The most common assassin bugs in our area are members of the Zelus genus... They are slender, long-legged bugs that are usually found on leaves and flowers, where they hunt by ambush. Length is 10-15 mm. Zelus species can fly and will if frightened, but they usually stay put and rely on their camouflage to hide them from both predators and their prey. They capture prey with their front legs, which are coated with sticky hairs.I have seen slightly different (more robust) assassin bugs in our garden holding dead butterflies and moths. Didn't know they preyed on caterpillars, but I'm not surprised.
Zelus eggs are laid on leaves in a small cluster. They have white caps on top. When they hatch, the nymphs disperse very quickly, as they will eat their siblings if given the chance...
Update: I monitored the eggs every time I went to the mailbox. Nothing happened until yesterday (July 16 - 18 days after they were deposited), when I saw the underside of the leaf was just boiling with a mass of baby assassins:
The photo quality is marginal, but o.k. for documentary if not artistic purposes. I don't know why some of the nymphs are milky white while others are more translucent - whether this is a true dimorphism or whether some are older and their exoskeletons are maturing.