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

Subject: Please identify the big bug in picture
Location: north Georgia mountains
August 26, 2016 6:03 am
Good morning. A friend took the attached photo earlier this week. and has given his explicit permission for me to do with it what I want, including sharing it/using it. Our community is in the North Georgia mountains, and my friend’s home is located in the lower elevations of the neighborhood, adjacent to the golf course.
There have been a lot of yellow-jackets in the area this year, so we’re happy that something might be attacking them. But, what in the heck is that big something?
Thanks in advance for any assistance you are able to provide.
Signature: Edie

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Yellow Jacket

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Yellow Jacket

Dear Edie,
The predator in the image is a Red Footed Cannibalfly, a large species of Robber Fly.  While Robber Flies might bite a person who carelessly tried to handle one, they are not aggressive towards humans.  The unnatural position of the wings of the Red Footed Cannibalfly in your image is somewhat disturbing, leading us to speculate that it is no longer alive and possibly the victim of Unnecessary Carnage.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Cuckoo for caterpillars (Food Chain)
Location: Louisa Co., Virginia, USA
August 17, 2016 10:24 am
I have a 9-year-old honeylocust which this year has the most glorious infestation of some apparently delicious caterpillars. I am an avid birdwatcher and have contented myself with mostly listening for the shy, elusive cuckoos that appear in my yard every year. However, for the past week they have not been able to stay away from this tree and the buffet the caterpillars are providing – as many as 3 cuckoos hanging around gorging themselves just outside my door. I’m not concerned about the tree – just a bit of minor defoliation, and it’s late in the season – but I sure hope that whatever bug this is decides to come back from now on so I can get such fantastic views of yellow-billed cuckoos!
Signature: Winston B

White Flannel Moth Caterpillar

White Flannel Moth Caterpillar

Goodness, Gracious Winston,
This one proved to be a far greater challenge to us than we anticipated.  We recall having identified this distinctive caterpillar species in the past, and we were relatively certain it was a Flannel Moth Caterpillar, so we searched our own archive.  We looked at hundreds of old postings, beginning with Asps and Flannel Moth Caterpillars, but we could not locate it.  We eventually found it on Walter Reeves Venomous (Poisonous) Caterpillars site where it is identified as a White Flannel Moth Caterpillar.  We then returned to our own site, but the most recent posting we had of a White Flannel Moth Caterpillar,
Norape ovina, was 2007, and that predated our site overhaul and recategorization method.  According to BugGuide:  “Caterpillar has stinging spines” but obviously, your Cuckoos are unaffected by the spines or venom.  BugGuide also notes:  “Species name ovina is Latin, meaning ‘of or like sheep'” and we suspect that might be a reference to their group grazing behavior.  We love your Food Chain images.

Cuckoo Eats White Flannel Moth Caterpillars

Cuckoo Eats White Flannel Moth Caterpillars

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: weird bug mating with bee
Location: high point, north carolina
August 15, 2016 5:26 pm
so i was sitting in my room and i looked on the screen of my window and saw a large-ish bug mating with a bee (bumble bee i think). the bee was “on bottom” and the larger bug was on top. the large bug had wings and large bulge-y black eyes. it seemed as if the wings went into a point at the bottom so it appeared somewhat in a triangle shape. i don’t know if that type of bug and bees mate often but the mating thing might help.
Signature: -brit

Robber Fly Eats Bee

Robber Fly Eats Bee

Dear -brit,
Bees and other insects do not engage in interspecies mating.  Your image is not ideal for identification purposes, but we believe you have observed a Robber Fly eating a Bee.  Large Robber Flies often prey upon wasps and bees.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Impressive killer
Location: California, ky. 20 minutes south of cincinnati
August 14, 2016 6:42 pm
Hello, I found a photo of the insect in question on the Internet and it directed me to your page. I couldn’t find the image I saw on your web site, so I am contacting you. This insect was flying around with a horse fly in its grips and eventually landed on me…. Then on one of my banana trees, where he rested for at least a half hour (see pic). You are welcome to use my images on your web site as they are quite interesting.
Signature: Thanks, Tony Painter

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Horse Fly

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Horse Fly

Dear Tony,
This impressive predator is a Giant Robber Fly known as a Red Footed Cannibalfly,
Promachus rufipes, and they are adept hunters who can take very large prey on the wing.  There is even a report on the Hilton Pond Center website of a Red Footed Cannibalfly catching a hummingbird.  We believe the prey in your awesome images is Tabanus americanus, because of the red antennae.  Can you confirm that the Horse Fly has green eyes?  They are not readily visibly green in your images.  We are very impressed that you were able to walk around this awesome Food Chain encounter to get images from both sides.  As an aside, we had never heard of California, Kentucky, and we learned that as of the 2014 census, your sity has a population of 87.

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Horse Fly

Red Footed Cannibalfly eats Horse Fly

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: parasitoid wasp
Location: Cochise County, AZ
August 1, 2016 10:15 am
Hello! The bug in the picture seems like a parasitoid wasp and I wonder what kind it is and what it is doing on the cadaver of a rat. It looks like it’s stinging the rat but it shouldn’t be laying eggs on it, right? Maybe feeding on small flies on it? The photo was taken March 8th, 2015. Thank you for your help!
Signature: Kana

Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass

Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass

Dear Kana,
We are currently going back through requests sent in the past few weeks that we did not yet open, and we are awestruck at this image.  We agree it is a Parasitoid Wasp and that the host is likely the immature stage of a fly or beetle that is attracted to carrion.  We have not begun the research on this yet, but we did send your image to Eric Eaton to get his input as well.  We are posting it as unidentified and are going to immediately begin to do some research.  This is a very exciting posting for us and we hope to be able to identify the genus or species for you.  This is the kind of posting that validates our practice of going back a few weeks out of guilt to look at all the requests we have left unanswered.

Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass

Parasitoid Wasp on Rat Carcass

Upon doing a web search for “Braconid on Carrion” we found a Google Books online pdf from The Entomologist’s Monthly Magazine, Volume 43 that states:  “Few Hymenoptera are found in carrion; the commonest is a Braconid, Alysia manducator, which is parasitic upon both the Dipterous and Coleopterous larvae (cf. Marshall, Bracon, d’Europ., ii.377); I first took it on a foal at Brockenhurst in May and subsequently on a rabbit in June, also on a horse’s shin bone and a cow’s head in the same month.  An Ichneumonid, Atractodes bicolor, which may be hyperparasitic on the last species (cf. Morley, Ichn. Brit., i, 291 et ii) was taken in a rabbit in September, 1895, in a cow’s head at Lyndhurst in August and in a mole in June; its cousin, A. gilvipes, was once found in a rabbit early in June, 1903.  A second kind of Braconid (? Rhogas sp.) was taken in the same kind of animal at the end of September, 1899; and a third, Meteorus filator, in a rabbit in November. ”  All that is from an old English publication, but it does validate that there are Parasitoid Wasps that will search for hosts on carrion.  We searched BugGuide for the genus Atractodes, and worked backwards to the subfamily Cryptinae, and BugGuide states:  “Mostly external parasites of pupae and cocoons; a few attack wood-boring beetle larvae, others attack larvae of Diptera, a few are hyperparasites of braconids and other ichneumons.”  We similarly searched Alysia on BugGuide and back to the Tribe Alysiini on BugGuide where it states:  “Often in moist habitats and decaying substrates, where host larvae are likely to be found” and “Larvae are parasitoids that feed on larvae of cyclorrhaphous Diptera (advanced flies with short antennae).”  We followed other links and did not find anything that looks like your Parasitoid Wasp, but we know we are on the right track.

Eric Eaton responds
Daniel:
Interesting.  Definitely one of the colorful Braconidae, and she is certainly ovipositing on *something.*
Eric
author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
http://bugeric.blogspot.com/

Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for your reply!  I’m so excited to hear from you.  Your second email is very informative and answers my question why the wasp was on the carrion.  This is the first time I posted my photo on any public website and I’m glad I did.  Hope to hear from you with the species name and I really appreciate your time and effort.
Kana

Update from Kana:  August 23, 2016
Dear Daniel,
BugGuide had a photo of wasp very similar to mine and it was taken in my area:  http://bugguide.net/node/view/464251
They filed it under subfamily Agathidinae.  The only thing is that they say it hosts Lepidoptera larvae and it doesn’t explain why mine was on rat.  But thank you for your help!
Kana

Hi again Kana,
The BugGuide information “hosts: Lepidoptera larvae” is so general it might not apply to all members of the subfamily.  Some parasitic Hymenopterans are not well studied and many have mysterious life cycles.  The BugGuide information might also be wrong.  Thanks for the update.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Nice Cicada-killer wasp with prey
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia, US
August 11, 2016 3:38 pm
I actually have two of these in front of my door — one burrow is beneath a corner of my front walk, the other is apparently under a nearby holly tree. Here’s a pic I got of the former carrying a cicada
Signature: Dave H,

Cicada Killer with Prey

Cicada Killer with Prey

Dear Dave,
You don’t know how refreshing it is for us to receive an image of a Cicada Killer with its prey that we can tag with Food Chain as opposed to tagging it with Unnecessary Carnage since we receive so many images of dead Cicada Killers.  So many people have irrational fears about Cicada Killers, and we concur that they are large and quite formidable looking, but as the host to two underground broods, we would love to have you write back so we can verify to our readership that Cicada Killers are not aggressive toward humans.

A Facebook Comment from Wanda
In all my years of weeding and tending my Rain Garden, I have never – repeat never – been approached or threatened by a Cicada Killer Wasp, even those who were larger than my thumb! I can safely say the same for the other wasps in my garden: Northern Paper, Great Black, Great Golden Digger, Potter and others. They are all more interested in the nectar from the plants, especially the milkweed. I walk past them, they fly past me as I work, they don’t even land on me. I welcome them for the pollinating work they do.

Dave H. confirms Cicada Killer Docility
Subject: Re:  Indeed, Cicada-killers are quite mellow
August 12, 2016 11:42 am
I’ve watched them often as I stood outside smoking,  and they’ve never even made a warning swoop toward me.   Surely one of the biggest wasps most folks will encounter, but also one of the least dangerous.
While I’m at it, I just wanted to compliment that picture of a molting cicada — that one is truly spectacular, and the little girl in the background just underlines the wonder of the moment.
Signature: Dave Harmon

We agree that it is a wonderful image Dave.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination