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

spider with HUGE “parasite” (worm)
Hi. I sent an email several weeks ago (4-8 weeks) re: a spider with parasite. At the time, I was having problems with my internet service….so, I want to resend the email just in case you never received the original. Thanks for your advice/information about “my parasite problem”. July 2007-I saw what I thought was a fire ant in my basement living area (we do have problems with fire ants) because its abdomen was so large. I tried to catch the ant, but it was too fast. It jumped out of my bug catcher as quickly as I got it in. To say the least, he died. It scared me to death when he jumped out…..I thought he was going to sting me. I reacted……but anyways…….As I was doing research (to see if this large red ant was a fire ant), I noticed its intestines MOVED! After a couple of minutes, I realized that this was not the ant’s intestines…….it was a “worm” (parasite)!!! Sorry-no pictures that day! 2 weeks later, I was sitting in the floor in my living area of my basement. Low and behold, I seen a “worm” stuck to the bottom of my entertainment center with a dead ant next to it (I included pictures). I could see where the parasite had “busted” out of the ant’s abdomen. The “worm” was dead (dried up-guess it didn’t find a host in time).Attached is 2 pictures The last straw…….about 2 months ago, a huge Wolf spider ran towards my living area in my basement. I sprayed it with bug spray, and almost immediately, I saw a big “worm” bust out of the spider’s abdomen and begin to wriggle around looking for a host. I took many pictures and even a video (will try to send if I can figure out how to make smaller). 4 pictures are attached My concern is this……are we being attacked by parasites? I have 2 small children (ages 2 & 5) that both suck their thumbs. Do we have a parasite problem that needs to be dealt with? Is this common to see these parasites? Are they any harm to humans? Thanks so much for your help!!!!
Monica Lain
Nashville, Tennessee

Hi Monica,
We found a website entitled The Worm, the Spider and the Coffee Cup that discusses the Mermithid Worm as an internal parasite of spiders. Here is a quote from the site: “Mermithid worms are internal parasites whose infective larvae enter spiders directly or via ingested food. Once inside the spider, the tiny worm obtains nourishment from it’s hosts body fluids, digestive glands, gonads (‘parasitic castration’) and muscles. As a consequence the spider becomes progressively more debilitated, but doesn’t actually die. This is because the spider’s vital organs usually remain intact, even though all of the abdomen, and occasionally part of the cephalothorax, may be filled with worm coils. Eventually in a scene reminiscent of the movie “Alien”, the gorged worm bursts out of the body of the debilitated spider, which finally dies after this macabre event. Before it dies, however the spider often has to perform one more task for it’s deadly parasite. In some mermithids, the final free-living stage of the worm is aquatic, so that it is advantageous for the worm if its emergence can take place near a water body – a pond, a creek or puddle. To increase this likelihood, such worms seem able to induce their hapless hosts to seek water, spiders sometimes actually walking into the water before the worm emerges. This behavior may result from thirst-induced activity as the worm consumes the spider’s body fluids. Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that the spider’s water seeking behavior helps to ensure the parasite’s survival and propagation.” We also located a technical paper online. Nothing indicates the parasites are interested in your children.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Survival of the fittest
Hi guys,
I check your site daily. I find it endlessly fascinating! I found this struggle between the yellow jacket and some sort of spider going on this morning on my barbed wire fence. Can you identify the spider? I don’t normally see such light-colored spiders. Thanks for your help.
Susan Rockwell
Alva, FL (Southwest Florida)

Hi Susan,
Your spider, the Green Lynx Spider, was our featured Bug of the Month for November. We are especially fond of these hunting spiders that do not build webs, preferring instead to leap at flying insects. In our garden, they frequently perch on flowers like roses and daisies, and the coloration of the spider blends with the foliage of the plants. Thanks for sending us your awesome Food Chain image.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Brachonid wasp/Hornworm
Hi Bugman! I’m in the process of digitizing some old slides. This was taken in Aug 1971 near West Point, IN and shows a Brachonid wasp-infected Tobacco hornworm facing his nemesis. Peace,

Hi Dwaine,
What a gorgeous image. It makes us a bit nostalgic for Kodachrome.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Air attack by hornets on crab
In Oman recently, observed some hornets attacking a crab which was defending a piece of discarded food on the beach. Three hornets ended up attacking together from different directions. The crab just swiped at them with its big claw. The hornets gave up in the end. Hope the pictures are of interest.
John Jackson

Hi John,
Wow, what action photos you have sent us. These are Oriental Hornets, Vespa orientalis, and they are social wasps. We found a website that identifies them, lists the distribution as northern africa, western asia and madagascar, and gives other information about them. We are not sure what type of crab it is and we haven’t the time to research that right now.

Update (12/03/2007) crab vs. hornet
that has to be the funniest picture I have ever seen! It’s like David and Goliath. I guess the hornets thought it was worth the try. I’m sure the crab was laughing! happy holidays
Lee Weber
Nottingham PA

Hi Lee,
We agree that these photos are quite amazing. We were in a big rush to post them this morning before going to work.

Update: (12/05/2007) The crab and the oriental hornets
Hi Daniel,
The crab in those really great pictures is a species of Ghost Crab, genus Ocypode. They are called ghost crabs because at least some of the species are so well camouflaged that they are pretty much invisible on the sand until they move, which is often very rapidly indeed! In the Caribbean they come out of their burrows towards the end of the day. I don’t know which species this would be, as there are apparently 5 different species in the genus in Oman. All the very best,
Susan Hewitt

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Flaky spotted bug thing…
I so enjoy your site, thanks for helping me out on this one. I tried to browse your site to figure out what this was, but wasn’t even sure what to type in the query. I apologize for it being sort of cropped off, but maybe it’s enough to give you an idea. I was out deadheading marigolds and actually saw this bug the day before. I thought it was a flaky dried piece of leaf and almost brushed it away. When I looked at it more closely, on that first day, it was actually two bugs. The one you see in this image and a smaller "baby" piggybacking it. It just looks so surreal to me and very creepy what it seems to be doing to that poor bee! Thanks…
Marisa Longmont, CO

Hi Marisa,
This is an Ambush Bug feeding on a Honey Bee. Ambush Bugs are True Bugs that, as their name implies, ambush prey. What you witnessed the day before was mating activity.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hey Bugman!
Hi there … Iwas cleaning out the e-mail cache and it occurs to me that I ’m still not sure what this spider may be? I’ve also attached a “Predator and Prey ”shot from this summer that you might enjoy . Thanks for the website …great pics …great resource!
Bud Hensley
Middletown, Ohio
Sent (06/07/2007)
Great website and looking for a little help identifying this bizarre spider that has been taking its much welcomed toll on our local beetle population. Seeing that you were in Ohio recently, this might be right up your alley! Our garden is located in the southwestern part of the state in Middleto wn. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

Hi Bud,
We are very happy you decided to resend your image. Summer months are our busiest and we get upwards of 140 letters per day. Logistically, we can only answer a small fraction, and many letters go unread. This is a new species for our site, the Brown Lynx Spider, Oxyopes scalaris. Lynx Spiders are hunting spiders that do not build webs. Your image of a Preying Mantis with and overachiever complex is very funny.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination