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

Subject: Spined soldier bug?
Location: Stafford, VA
November 12, 2012 7:11 pm
We spotted this creature on the side of one of our beehives. He appears to be eating a honeybee. Is it what I think it is–a spined soldier bug?
Signature: growgreen, VA south of DC

Spined Soldier Bug eats Honey Bee

Dear growgreen,
This predatory Stink Bug does appear to be a Spined Soldier Bug,
Podisus maculiventris.  Though they are beneficial predators, we would recommend relocating it away from your hives.

Thank you very much for this identification and advice.
Love your site.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Pholcus phalangioides Behavior
Location: Jamul, California
November 11, 2012 7:58 pm
Today we watched as a group of cellar spiders first fought over and then communally dined on a trapped housefly.

Cellar Spiders trap a Fly

One of the larger spiders chased the others away, at one point almost appearing to ”box” with another. Then the bigger spider spent some time shoring up the web around the fly. Finally, all the spiders moved in, jockeyed for position, and peacefully settled down to dine. I’ve never witnessed this behavior before; needless to say, it was fascinating!
Signature: lkyoder

Cellar Spiders Dine

Dear lkyoder,
We are speechless at this awesome documentation and the spectacular close up photograph of this communal feeding behavior of the very domestic and harmless Cellar Spiders. We will speculate more later.

How many Legs do you count?

LOL. Then my work here is done!  Looking forward to alternative interpretations of what we observed.
Thanks, Dan, for looking and for all the hard work that you do!

Hi again Leslie,
We suspect the largest spider is most likely a female and perhaps she was “boxing” with another female as a means of exerting her dominance.  We wonder what advantage there is to communal feeding.  This is such a fascinating posting.  Thanks again for sending it in.

Hi, Dan.
I joked on facebook that perhaps this is what Thanksgiving dinner looks like when you’re a cellar spider.
They were there for hours, incidentally. This morning, all are dispersed. . . .

Update from Leslie
Hi, Dan. As you have no doubt figured out, I keep a very spider-friendly home. As a result, I’ve got a lot of webs, but the pic below I felt worth sharing. More cellar spider work, this was woven in the circular piece that tops a lampshade harp. I’d like to think that those of us who accommodate spiders get our own personal dream-catcher from time to time.

Dreamcatcher Web of a Cellar Spider

Hi Leslie,
Though we have Cellar Spiders in our cottage office without a basement, we have never witnessed this communal dining nor the dreamcatcher web.  We do love the way Cellar Spiders shake their webs when they are disturbed.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: wasp carrying spider
Location: San Diego
November 5, 2012 4:51 pm
I photographed this wasp that was carrying off an unfortunate spider, in my back yard. Managed to get a few decent macro pics before they disappeared. Unfortunately I couldn’t locate a nest.
Signature: Doug

Spider Wasp with Prey

Dear Doug,
This is a wonderful image of a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae with its prey.  Female Spider Wasps sting and paralyze spiders.  They then drag or fly with the spiders to a usually underground nest and then lay an egg on the spider.  The spider is still alive, but helpless, and the developing wasp larva eats it alive.  We believe we have identified your Spider Wasp as
Dipogon calipterus thanks to this image on BugGuide.

Hi Daniel
Many thanks. I’ll have to inspect the ground carefully to try to find a nest and try to capture the next stages of the unfortunate spider’s sllow demise.

Please let us know if you do Doug.  What’s That Bug? would love to post additional stages in the life cycles of this Food Chain contribution.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Orb Weaver
Location: San Francisco, CA
October 10, 2012 2:09 am
This Orbweaver is residing in my backyard. I suspect it is either a Cross Orbweaver or a Western Spotted Orbweaver, but I was wondering if you could better identify it. I have seen it for the past three days, and today I found it whilst it was wrapping up what appeared to be a honey bee.
Signature: Ben Miller

Cross Spider

Hi Ben,
In our opinion, this is a Cross Spider or Cross Orbweaver,
Araneus diadematus, which you can verify on BugGuide.  Cross Spiders have the distinction of being the first spiders sent into space when Anita and Arabella were launched aboard Skylab 3 in 1973.

I really appreciate your site. Thank you for all the great info and pictures.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Female California Mantis
Location:  Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
September 23, 2012

Female  Mantis

The staff didn’t feel like cooking lunch today, so we headed out for a Fusion Burger in Highland Park.  On the way to the car, we spotted this female California Mantis on the power box and headed back in for the camera and we took a few photographs.  We suspect she may have been displaced since we have been trimming trees and shrubs this weekend, and we always leave the lid on the green bin open in the event that any critters were thrown away with the branches.  She was found not far from the green bin.
For the past few weeks, we have been seeing male California Mantids near the porch light, and we have already made several postings.  After lunch we relocated this plump female California Mantis to the basil plant in the front garden, and within 30 seconds she had caught a Honey Bee.  Another curious Honey Bee kept on checking out what was happening with her hive mate as the luckless bee was eaten.

Female Mantis eats Honey Bee

Update:  January 2, 2013
We received a comment correcting our identification and informing us that this is
Stagmomantis limbata, not the California Mantis in the same genus.  We are linking to the BugGuide page while we await clarification how to distinguish one species from the other.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Potter wasp and Gulf Fritillaries on Passion Flower vine
Location: Tucson, AZ
September 22, 2012 12:56 am
Good evening!
I thought you might enjoy these photos of some of the many visitors to my passion flower vines. In the first photo you’ll see a pretty little potter wasp constructing her nurseries. Any idea what species she is?
The second photo I like to call ”synchronized chrysalis exiting competition”. I’m fairly certain my 4 vines are responsible for about 90% of the population of Gulf Fritillaries in Tucson. I’ve had so many caterpillars my poor vines are barely clinging to life. Do you think the potter could be using the smaller caterpillars to feed her young? It would be great to get some natural crowd control.
I’ve also seen several tiny lacewing larvae on the vines, carrying around bunches of junk (and ant bodies) on their backs for camouflage- I was able to identify them using your site. They’re so cool, but my camera’s not sophisticate enough to get a good shot.
Love your site!
Signature: Emily

Potter Wasp constructs Pot

Hi Emily,
This is a beautiful Potter Wasp and your photo is exquisite.  One of the closest color matches we could find on BugGuide is
Dolichodynerus tanynotus, but alas, there is no species information.  There is a single submission from San Diego.  Further research on bugGuide makes us inclined to speculate that this is actually Eumenes bollii, which appears darker than your individual, however, the markings appear very similar, especially this image from San Diego.  The BugGuide genus page for Eumenes states:  “Females make a pot of clay as a nest, provision with moth and beetle larvae. Wasp places eggs on wall of cell, then provisions” though we would not discount the possibility that your individual is provisioning her nest with Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars, especially since the subfamily page on BugGuide indicates:  “Most provision with caterpillars.”  Thank you for proposing such an interesting hypothesis.  Though there is no actual documentation, we are taking creative license and tagging this as a Food Chain possibility.

Simultaneous emergence of Gulf Fritillaries

Thanks so much for replying to my letter. I think you nailed it with the Eumenes bollii identification, the photos on BugGuide look just like her. I’ve always wondered what sort of organs/tissues run through that tiny wasp waist from the body that keep the abdomen alive…
Thanks again,

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination