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

Tanzanian Butterfly
Hi, I took this picture of a feeding butterfly in Tanzania last year and was wondering what it was? Iv also included photos of a different butterfly (though I think of the same species) being eaten by what I think is a golden orb spider Many Thanks

Your butterfly is a Swallowtail, probably in the genus Papilio. The spider is a Golden Silk Spider in the genus Nephila. We did some cursory research to try to identify the species, but we didn’t have much luck. That could take hours. Perhaps one of our readers can supply the information. At any rate, the shots of the Golden Silk Spider capturing and feeding on the Swallowtail are phenomenal.

Update: (05/27/2008)
I think the African butterfly caught by the silk spider may be a milkweed butterfly rather than a swallowtail. I’ll try to get a positive ID at some point later today.
Eric Eaton

Updated Update: (05/28/2008)
Wow, I owe you a big apology! You were correct, the butterfly victim of the Nephila spider really is a swallowtail, likely a subspecies of Graphium angolanus. It is likely a mimic of one of the milkweed butterflies, hence my confusion:-) I think you’d better let Julian do all the leps from now on! Eric

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

A few questions regarding a caterpillar
Hi Bugman,
I came across your site when I was trying to figure out what monstrous spider was creeping on my shower ceiling last night. After finding out that you’re THE go-to people for identifying photos of bugs, I thought I’d throw a few your way. We live in southern California and this is a caterpillar that my son found on our fence a few weeks ago, that was starting to make its chrysalis. The next day the chrysalis was fully formed and I realized that there were several other chrysalises along that same fence. I guess that’s the hot spot for them. Anyway, when I looked at some of the other ones, I discovered that one was being invaded by other bugs. Attached are the picture of the caterpillar and of the invaded chrysalis. My questions for you are: Is this a fritillary caterpillar (the only one on your site that closely resembles what I have)? What will the butterfly look like when it comes out? It’s already been 3 weeks – how much longer before the butterfly emerges? Are the bugs on the chrysalis the braconid wasp and were they in the caterpillar before it started the metamorphosis? OK, those are all my questions. Thank you for putting up a wonderfully informative website! My 3.5 year-old son and I have been looking at many of your photos today.

Hi Gina,
Calling us the “go to people” is quite a compliment. This are photos of stages of metamorphosis of the Gulf Fritillary, Agraulis vanillae, a pretty orange butterfly with metallic markings that feeds on passion vine. The adult butterflies should be emerging soon if they have not been parasitized. The Braconid parasitization may have occured at the caterpillar stage or the chrysalis stage.

Correction: (05/18/2008)
Hi, Daniel: My only itty-bitty correction today is that the wasps on the gulf fritillary chrysalis are not braconids. They are some kind of chalcid wasp instead. Chalcids comprise several entire families of insects, so without a microscope and the specimens, no one is likely to be able to say which wasps, exactly, to genus or species. Chalcid larvae typically develop within the caterpillar, but emerge from the chrysalis. All the other recent posts are dead on, including the big African assassin bug. Well done (insert applause here):-)
Eric Eaton

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

weird water bug
Hi Bugman,
I love your site! I took this photo last July 15 in southeast Michigan. I was trying to get a shot of those damselflies when I noticed that weird thing under the lily pad that appeared to be eating one of them. It was in a small man-made pond at a botanical garden. I’m not even sure where to look for it in your archives, so I’m going straight to you. Any idea what it is?
Martha H.
Ann Arbor, M

hi Martha,
Wow, what an awesome image of a Water Scorpion in the genus Ranatra eating a Damselfly while other Damselflies sit unaware. Interestingly, this is the third photo of a Water Scorpion submitted to our site today.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Assassin Bug follow up
A couple of days ago I sent a photo of an Assassin Bug, I think its in the Nymph stage. I’m keeping a close eye on the plant that has the Assassins on it. I went to the pet shop to buy some small crickets to stage an assassination. When I went to the plant, one of the nymphs had just taken another unknown bug. I took several pictures of the carnage. After a while I took off the back jumping legs of a small cricket, just pinch the upper part of the jumper and it falls off. I fed the prey to the aggressive hunter who took it immediately. While photographing the action, another Nymph joined in. It was quite the tug of war. They seemed to settle down after a few minutes and proceeded in what would be one of my worst nightmares. I hope you can tell me what kind of Assassin this is and what it may turn into. I have attached three new photos, 1 is what you consider carnage of the predators natural prey. 2 is a staged assassination of a store bought cricket. 3 A colossal battle of two creatures that may or may not be from another planet.Thanks

Hi Danny,
Thanks for sending your exciting letter and wonderful photographs. We pondered the merits of the natural predation versus the feeding intervention, and opted for the sensationalism of the “tug of war” between two Pselliopus Assassin Bug Nymphs and the store bought Cricket. Assassin Bugs in this genus are known as Sycamore Assassin Bugs.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

ahhh!!! Praying mantis eating a Mouse!!! ICE!!!
Praying mantis eating Mice!!!
hey hey Bugman,
saw your carnage section of, and wanted to add some carnage in favor of our insectoid friends. Attached is some pictures of yes, a Mantis eating a Mice; it looks like a common green mantis, found here near DC, European Mantis (Mantis religiosa) and it had a ferocious appetite!!!

Did you take this photo?

yes, they were taking fall 2007, I have a few more pictures and a short video I believe. I live in the northern VA area, near DC.

Hi again TopheR,
Thanks for verifying that you are the author of this photo. When we first received it, we were reluctant to post without that confirmation because the image might have come from another website specializing in internet sensationalization. Now that you have been established as the author, we have additional questions and are ready to take the dialog online. There is still something about this image that doesn’t quite sit right with us. The mouse looks like a domestic mouse. No one will contest that Preying Mantids will eat what they can catch. We have seen photos of Mantids eating hummingbirds and lizards. Is this a captive Preying Mantis that was fed a pet store mouse?, or was it an actual documentary image of nature in action? The plant looks like a potted plant shot indoors, leading us to believe it is a staged photograph. We also want to clarify the difference between our Carnage pages and our Food Chain pages. Nature in action does not constitute carnage. Human intervention constitutes carnage. Insects eating one another and other life forms is the balance of nature, and those images find their way to our Food Chain section. Until we get a response from you regarding our latest queries, we will post your image to both Unnecessary Carnage (if the mouse was fed by you to the mantis for a sensational photo and video) and Food Chain (since the mantis did actually eat the mouse).

Update: Documentation of weird nature.
I had some pinkies I was feeding to my savannah monitor one at a time; I put them at the base of that ficus tree while I went to feed the lizard. The mantis was drawn to the movement of them, possibly the faint squeaking if they hear that good, and grabbed him one. I was suprised that the mantis could actually grab and hold onto it and climb because the pinkie mouse felt heavier than the mantis itself. The mantis ate enough of the mouse it kill it, but didnt finish all of it; it dined on the neck region of the mouse and then I assume after it was full, dropped the pinkie and proceeded to clean its claws and “fingers”.

Thanks for the clarification TopheR,
We will officially remove this entry from the Unnecessary Carnage page, and keep it on the Food Chain page where it belongs.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What was that bug?
Hi Bugman !
I was recently visiting my folks in Maine, this cocoon(?) was in a maple tree in the yard. It is probably about 5 inches long. What do you think? Pondering in Portland,

Hi Jim,
This is a Cecropia Moth Cocoon. The small hole in the second photograph indicates that it may have been parasitized since it seems to small for the adult moth to have emerged.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination