Currently viewing the tag: "food chain"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What’s on the caterpillar?
Location: Southeastern Virginia
July 21, 2014 12:33 pm
A friend has a caterpillar in her garden and she found it like this today. It was fine a few days ago…What in the world is going on with it?
Signature: Crystal

Carolina Sphinx Before

Carolina Sphinx Before

Dear Crystal,
This caterpillar is a Carolina Sphinx or Tobacco Hornworm,
Manduca sexta, and they are frequently found feeding on tomato plants and related plants in the garden.  Your second image documents the results of a parasitization by a Braconid Wasp, Cotesia congregata.  The female Braconid lays her eggs inside the caterpillar using an ovipositor and the larval wasps develop inside the caterpillarfeeding on the caterpiller beneath its skin.  When the larvae mature, the make their way to the surface and spin cocoons, and that is what is shown in the second image.  The caterpillar will not live to maturity even if the cocoons are removed.  See BugGuide for additional information on the Braconid.

Carolina Sphinx parasitized by Braconids

Carolina Sphinx parasitized by Braconids

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: assassin bug eating japanese beetle
Location: Hermann, Missouri
July 19, 2014 4:09 pm
stopped to close a gate and saw this. took about 30 pics in order to get one that was decent. sending in high rez. makes me really really happy that there are natural predators to the dang japanese beetles. not nearly enough of them, but still….
Signature: c. millard

Wheel Bug eats Japanese Beetle

Wheel Bug eats Japanese Beetle

Dear c. millard,
Thank you so much for sending in your excellent image of a Wheel Bug feeding on a Japanese Beetle, and we are certain it will warm the collective hearts of gardeners in the eastern portions of North America where the invasive, exotic Japanese Beetle feeds on hundreds of different ornamental garden plants and food crops.  According to our sources, Japanese Beetles were not a big problem in Ohio in 2014.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Need ID of Insect ASAP
Location: Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, Colorado
July 1, 2014 12:54 pm
Hello! I’m a professional photojournalist. I recently photographed an owl eating an insect I have not been able to identify. I’d greatly appreciate your help in determining the identity of this interesting bug. See the attached image. The location was Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Colorado, and the date was June 21. Thanks in advance for your help!
Signature: Jenny E. Ross

Owl Eats Orthopteran

Owl Eats Ensiferan

Dear Jenny,
Do you know what species of owl this is? We believe the insect is an Orthopteran, and we will search BugGuide to try to determine its identity.
  We have also cropped, enhanced and sharpened an enlargement of just the Orthopteran which resulted in a degradation of image quality, so we would prefer a higher resolution of the closeup as we have cropped it to assist in the identification.  It appears to have the long antennae of the suborder Ensifera.

Camel Cricket in the clutches of a Burrowing Owl

Camel Cricket in the clutches of a Burrowing Owl

Dear Daniel,
The owl is an adult female western burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia hypugaea). I have attached another cropped version of the same photograph per your instructions, as well as several additional cropped photographs of the same insect being held in different positions by the owl. I’m unsure how large you need me to make the image files, so if these aren’t large enough just let me know. (My original raw files are quite large, but – having just returned from my trip – I haven’t post-processed them yet. To save time I made these files for you directly from the unprocessed jpegs I shot simultaneously with the raw files.)
Thanks very much for your help!
Jenny

Camel Cricket and Burrowing Owl

Camel Cricket and Burrowing Owl

Hi again Jenny,
These new images are very helpful.  We thought at first in the original image this might be a Mormon Cricket, but that is not correct.  We believe it is a Camel Cricket, perhaps in the subfamily Ceuthophilinae.  Some likely candidates are New Mexico Camel Cricket,
Styracosceles neomexicanus, which is pictured on BugGuide, or some member of the genus  Ceuthophilus, which is also well represented on BugGuide.  We will try to contact Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki as well as Eric Eaton to get their input.
P.S.  We got an autoreply that Piotr is in Mozambique through the end of July and we will most likely not be getting a response from him soon.

Burrowing Owl eats Camel Cricket

Burrowing Owl eats Camel Cricket

Hi Daniel,
I really appreciate your efforts on this.
In case you’re not familiar with the size of an adult female burrowing owl to use for scale, this insect was quite large. I believe it was at least 3 inches long. (The apparent size in some of the photographs is a bit deceptive, because the bug was being crushed by the owl.) I will contact the owl experts I’m working with to see if they can narrow down the size estimate based on my photos and their detailed knowledge of burrowing owl proportions. The insect’s body was very robust. Overall, it did not present the much more delicate, leggy, spider-like appearance of a typical camel cricket. Also FYI, this owl and her mate caught several of these insects over a period of a few days (unfortunately, the other captures were too far away to photograph), and all of the bugs were the same large size and very red like this one.
My best,
Jenny

Thanks Jenny,
We are going to await a response from Piotr or Eric Eaton.  We are going to stand by the Camel Cricket as the closest ID for the moment.  We do not believe this is a Shieldback Katydid, which was our first guess.

Hi Daniel,
To help us with the insect ID, last night my scientific colleagues kindly took a moment to get a couple of measurements of two adult female burrowing owls while they were in the field attaching transmitters to them. (The two owls were measured by two different people in separate locations.) The measurements appear to confirm my estimate that the insect was at least 3 inches long:
·         Straight-line distance from the front edge of the cere to the tip on the upper beak:  first owl was 13.59 mm, and second owl was 13 mm
·         The distance between the center of the pupils in the left and right eyes: first owl was 25 mm, and second owl was 27 mm
I hope this is useful information.
Jenny

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Can you help me identify
Location: Southeastern kentucky
June 24, 2014 3:42 pm
What is this?? Looks like a spider but it has numerous antennae so I don’t know what it is
Signature: Shelby

Bold Jumper eats Arachnid

Bold Jumper eats Arachnid

Hi Shelby,
This is a Jumping Spider in the family Salticidae, and they are considered harmless to humans.  Based on the green chelicerae and the markings, we believe your Jumping Spider is a Bold Jumper,
Phidippus audax, a highly variable species which is pictured on BugGuide.  What you have mistaken for numerous antennae are actually the legs of some Arachnid prey, perhaps a Harvestman in the order Opiliones.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: queen ants?
Location: grand rapids, mi
May 30, 2014 10:45 pm
The past few days we’ve been seeing these things all over after sundown. They look like carpenter ants but are more than twice the size of the carpenter ants we see during the day. Some have wings, some don’t. They have a ring of fine hairs around their bottoms, a single node, etc. But if they are queens then why are there so many? And why would we only see them at night?
Signature: dave

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter Ant

Hi Dave,
We agree that this is a Carpenter Ant and you can compare your individual to this Alate in the genus
Camponotus that is pictured on BugGuide.  Winged swarming ants are known as alates, and they are produced in quantity by an old colony.  Once a virgin queen mates, she will loose the wings and begin a new colony.  One reason so many are produced by a single colony is that many fall prey to predators, like the image of what appears to be a Cobweb Spider in the family Theridiidae feeding on a winged alate Carpenter Ant.  According to BugGuide:  “Mating flights of the majority of species occur late April-May,” however, the time of day of the flights is not listed.

Carpenter Ant Alate eaten by Spider

Carpenter Ant Alate eaten by Cobweb Spider

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: What is she eating?
Location: Andover, NJ
May 27, 2014 12:27 pm
I was trying to get some shots of this paper wasp when I realized that it (she?) was eating or carrying something. I wasn’t able to get enough magnification in the image to determine what was in the wasps mouth, although it does look a little like a grub. The wasp eventually got tired of me taking pictures and took off with whatever it was still in its jaws. I’d be very interested in what was going on here.
Thank you!
Signature: Deborah

Paper Wasp with Prey

Paper Wasp with Prey

Hi Deborah,
It would be very difficult to identify the prey in your images conclusively, however, we can make an educated guess.  Paper Wasps in the genus
Polistes take nectar for nourishment, however, the workers do capture insects to feed to the developing larvae in the nest.  Caterpillars are a favored prey of Paper Wasps, and when they are captured, the caterpillars are often skinned and rolled into a ball for easy transportation back to the nest.  We feel strongly that the prey in your images is a Caterpillar.

Paper Wasp with Prey

Paper Wasp with Prey

Thank you!  What a fascinating thing to observe.  I thought it might be too early for them to be feeding larvae, but I guess it’s not.  Very cool.
Deborah Bifulco

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination