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

Subject: I named him Ryno
Location: Costa rica Jungle
April 27, 2013 5:07 pm
This is a little friend I found deep in the Jungle in Costa Rica. Anyone who what he is?
Signature: Ryno

What's That Caterpillar???

What’s That Caterpillar???

Dear Ryno,
We do not recognize this unusual looking caterpillar.  Generally Butterfly Caterpillars are not hairy, but we suspect this might be a Nymphalid Caterpillar.

Keith Wolfe responds to our identification request
Greetings “Ryno” and Daniel, this is a last-instar Caligo atreus (http://janzen.sas.upenn.edu/caterpillars/dblinks/searchplaycat4.lasso?-Search=GCAcaterpillars337&herbivore%20species=atreus).  Note the numerous white tachinid (http://www.nadsdiptera.org/Tach/Gen/tachintr.htm) eggs behind the head capsule, the inevitable doom of which it might possibly escape if pupation occurs before the maggots hatch.
Best wishes,
Keith

Hi Keith,
Thanks for getting back to us on this.  We didn’t realize those were Tachinid Fly eggs.  Good to know.  We hope this Owl Butterfly Caterpillar escapes being eaten alive by the fly larvae.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bug in backyard
Location: Stafford Tx. USA
April 24, 2013 12:06 pm
I live in Stafford TX and found this critter in my yard on a piece of iron…what is it??? Should we run !!!
Signature: Randy

Possibly Underwing Caterpillar, possibly Parasitized by Wasps

Possibly Underwing Caterpillar, possibly Parasitized by Wasps

Dear Randy,
This is a most curious set of photos, and we are requesting assistance from Eric Eaton prior to posting.  This is a Caterpillar and we believe it might be an Underwing Caterpillar in the genus
Catocala.  They grow quite large.  You can also compare your image to this photo of an Underwing Caterpillar on BugGuide.  We are most curious about the surrounding objects.  They look like the pupae of parasitic Wasps known as Braconids.  The wasps are generally quite species specific.  Here is a photo from our archive of a Hornworm parasitized by Braconids.  The curious thing about your photo is that the pupae are not attached to the caterpillar.  Again, we hope to get a more professional opinion for you.

Underwing Caterpillar and possible Parasites

Underwing Caterpillar and possible Parasites

Daniel:
I’m not an expert on caterpillars, but I think your scenario is right on.  Definitely braconid pupae.  This would be something interesting for Bugguide, and maybe someone else there knows more.
As of yesterday I am now writing blogs (ghostwriting, actually) for The Blogger Pool for a major third party client in the pest control industry.  So, I may not always get back to you as quickly as usual.  Plus, my wife and I are visiting her family out of state May 5-13, just so you know I won’t be online very often then.
Eric

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Spider Wasp
Location: White River, South Africa
April 19, 2013 6:58 am
Hi Bugman
Thanks for your reply. As it happens I did take some photographs. My wife has most of the shots and it going to try and upgrade the quality of the photos, but I have attached three in their original state for your perusal.
Signature: Steve

Spider Wasp with Huntsman Spider

Spider Wasp with Huntsman Spider

Dear Steve,
Thank you so much for writing back and providing photos to the comment you posted on the Spider Wasp from South Africa posting.  Many Spider Wasps have a
metallic sheen and we are curious if your personal observations included the purplish color of the posting you commented upon.  We get most of our Spider Wasp and Huntsman Spider submissions from Australia.  We are running a bit late this morning, but we will try to identify this species of Spider Wasp in the near future.  Your photos are wonderful.  We believe that the Spider Wasp might be dragging the Spider up the wall in an effort to glide as far as possible.  The wasp could never get off the ground with such a heavy payload, but by taking off from a higher elevation, she can still make use of flight to return to her burrow.

Spider Wasp with Rain Spider

Spider Wasp with Rain Spider

Thank you for reminding us that Huntsman Spiders are known as Rain Spiders in some parts of their range.  Your previous comment mentioned the pain of the sting.  Do you know this firsthand.  North American Tarantula Hawks, another large group of Spider Wasps, are also reported to have among the most painful stings of any insect.

Spider Wasp with Rain Spider

Spider Wasp with Rain Spider

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Strange bug
Location: Hong Kong/China
April 13, 2013 7:32 am
We were in china last summer, and we saw this strange bug with purple wings and orange legs, it seemed to be eating a spider. It was as big as a pointer finger, and really scary.
I took the picture.
Signature: -Catie

Spider Wasp attacks Huntsman Spider

Spider Wasp attacks Huntsman Spider

Dear Catie,
The predator is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae and the prey appears to be a Huntsman Spider in the family Sparassidae.  The spider is not being eaten by the wasp.  Female Spider Wasps hunt and paralyze Spiders to feed to their broods.  The paralyzed spider provides fresh, not dry meat for the developing wasp larva.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Hornworm being attacked by Paper Wasps
Location: Miami, FL, USA
April 4, 2013 4:04 pm
I saw a half dozen paper wasps attacking the head of a fairly large hornworm. Have you ever heard of this behavior? (I cannot imagine them carrying it off, it was 4 inches long).
Signature: Steve W.

Hornworm attacked by Paper Wasps

Hornworm attacked by Paper Wasps

Dear Steve,
This Tobacco Hornworm appears to be eating a tomato plant, and it has “oblique whitish lateral lines”, so we suspect it might be
Manduca sexta, the Carolina Sphinx.  See BugGuide for additional information.  The Paper Wasps are in the genus PolistesPaper Wasps will attack caterpillars and skin them, transporting the balled up flesh to the nest where it is fed to the developing larvae.  They do not intend to carry off this Tobacco Hornworm.  We suspect they will work as a crew and bite off sections of the Tobacco Hornworm to carry it off to the nest.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Cryptocheilus bicolor and …
Location: Perth, Western Australia
March 28, 2013 2:42 am
Dear Bugman
Recently captured few images and recognised the wasp from your site as Cryptocheilus bicolor (I think). Was interested to know what kind of spider it was. The picture were taken in Perth, Western Australia.

Spider Wasp battles with Wolf Spider

Spider Wasp battles with Wolf Spider

At first the wasp was the victim, and being dragged by the spider (yesterday). Wasp managed to get a sting in to ”seemingly” paralyse the spider, as it was still alive the following day (today).

Spider Wasp paralyzes Wolf Spider

Spider Wasp paralyzes Wolf Spider

The wasp has been dragging the spider around and attempted to get it to it’s nest in the roof… was a bit of a struggle and continually dropped it as it reached ceiling height, only to pick it up and drag it up the wall again! It now lies abandoned on the ground… seems to still have a little bit of life left in it! I think the wasp will be back for it… (?)
Signature: Marlise Nel

Wolf Spider Eyes

Wolf Spider Eyes

Hi Marlise,
Thank you for sending us your wonderful photos and your detailed observations of this Food Chain drama.  The Orange Spider Wasp, Cryptocheilus bicolor, feeds on both Huntsman Spiders and Wolf Spiders according to the Brisbane Insect Website.  We typically get photos of them feeding on Huntsman Spider and we believe this is the first example we have received of a Wolf Spider as the prey.  In your second photo, the face of the spider is perfectly facing the camera, so it was easy to make out the eye arrangement and match it to the eye arrangement of the Wolf Spiders.  Spider Eye Arrangements are posted to BugGuide.  One correction we would like to make on your observations is your mention of a rooftop nest.  Spider Wasps burrow underground, and this spider was intended not as food for the female wasp that hunted it, but rather for her brood.  Since it would be nearly impossible for the Spider Wasp to gain altitude from the ground while transporting such a large spider, it is common to see the wasps climb to a height and glide to the nest with the prey in tow.  Since we will be away from the office during the holiday, we are postdating your submission to go live early next week.

Spider Wasp dragging Wolf Spider up a wall

Spider Wasp dragging Wolf Spider up a wall

Dear Daniel
Delighted to hear from you!  Thank you so much for going to the trouble of replying with such detailed information.
Have since seen the videos of her dragging her prey underground :-)  Horribly cruel, yet resourceful execution…
Best
Marlise

 

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination