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

ID help please
Hi there,
I’ve attached a photo that I took in southeast Arizona this past week, around Sierra Vista. I was chasing after what I thought was a Tarantula Hawk and saw it land. As I approached the “bug” I saw that it had been captured by a mystery insect. What captured my target? Thanks in advance for your help, and please keep up the good work. I love using your site as a resource for identifying mystery insects.
BJ Stacey
Fins to fur, fangs to feathers: capturing wildlife through a lens.
Check out my web site:

Hi BJ,
The predator in your photo is a Robber Fly known as a Hanging Thief in the genus Diogmites. The prey is not a Tarantula Hawk, but some species of beetle. The angle of view makes identification a bit difficult.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Is this a Robber Fly?
I see that many of the pictures identified as Robber Flies look very different from each other. Some are slender and dark, others look like mutant, Klingon bumblebees. Anyway, this guy really gave me a start when I nearly brushed the leaf he was on with my head. He took off, but was back several times, once with a meal (I don’t mind anyone making meals of the Japanese Beetles.) Is something like this harmless to mammals, or does it have a bite/sting/searing wit/whatever?
Tom K.

Hi Tom,
This is one of the Bee-Like Robber Flies in the genus Laphria. We are not certain of the species, but there are many pictured on BugGuide. Sadly, too few things in the world are damaging because of their searing wit. Robber Flies do not have stingers, but if handled, we suspect they can bite. They will not attack unprovoked.  We wish more predators fed on the invasive exotic Japanese Beetle.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

“Tarantula wasp”?
While on vacation in Arizona, we were hiking in the desert and came to an area where we were almost being chased off by this flying insect, the we saw why, attached photos we took very carefully, but what am amazing sight to see, I know the “T” was paralyzed, but that’s a big arachnid to be carried away by a bug. Anyway my question is, what’s that Bug?

Hi Melissa,
Your wasp is a Tarantula Hawk, a Spider Wasp in the genus Pepsis. The female Tarantula Hawk will drag the paralyzed Tarantula to a burrow and lay an egg on it. Adult Tarantula Hawks are frequently found drinking nectar on Milkweed and other desert flowers. We are lamenting that your photo isn’t of a higher resolution because we would have loved to crop and enlarge it.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Big hornet on a cicadia
I just witnesses this crazy bug in the hornet family???? On top of his lunch traveling all over the patio. Want to know what that bug is? He eventually gave up and flew off and left the dead cicada. Thanks for helping.
Holli at Swain’s swimming patio.

Cicada Killer
Ed. Note: For many letters that we do not plan to post, we give a very brief answer in email only, which was the case here. This prompted the following confused response.

Huh???? Did I send this to the correct email???

We don’t understand this latest question. you sent a photo to our website and requested an identification. Your insect is a Cicada Killer. That is the common name, but if you prefer the Linnean binomial, it is Sphecius speciosus.
Ed. note: We hope our response cleared up the confusion, though a lack of a location on this letter should have prompted us to just hit delete. Perhaps the confused reader considers Swain’s swimming patio to be a location that would mean something to us. At any rate, the utter disregard for grammatical conventions in these communications created an uncontrollable urge on our part to share them with our loyal public.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Attention … Bee-like robber fly
Hi Bugman:
I was photographing damselflies this past weekend when this robber fly flew past my face and landed on a nearby leaf. Obviously it was interested in damselflies as well. I don’t think there is a common name for this creature other than bee-like, beeish or bumblebee robber fly in the genus Laphria. I believe this is L. janus, but perhaps you could confirm this for me. The photo was taken along a forest trail in an aspen parkland area of southwest Manitoba. Thanks, and regards.

Hi Karl,
Your Bee-Like Robber Fly is in the genus Laphria, and it doesn’t exactly match any of the species on BugGuide. We tried searching for photos of Laphria janus online but our intermittant connectivity problem returned. When our connectivity returned, we found some support to your identification and we agree this is Laphria janus. A Robber Fly webpage makes this observation: “Note the contrast in the hair color from thorax to abdomen. And note the thoracic hair is not in a triangular and elongate arrangement and it is not spread over the whole thorax. Also note the heavy golden beard and mystax of the female. “

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Stink Bug Eating Japanese Beetle
You’re site is terrific – I use it all the time. I’m always looking for ways to rid my yard of Japanese Beetles, so I thought that was wonderful: it looks like a Podisus (?) feasting on the beetle. Do they actually kill their prey or scavenge? I’ve never seen dead japanese beetles laying around like this except where I did the handiwork! It’s from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Thanks much!

Hi Adam,
You have correctly identified your Spined Soldier Bug, a Predatory Stink Bug in the genus Podisus. Predatory Stink Bugs are true predators, and not scavengers. They need a liquid diet, so they only suck the fluids from the prey, leaving behind a drained dry husk. Gardeners plagued by invasive exotic Japanese Beetles would probably love to be able to purchase Spined Soldier Bugs, and we read on BugGuide that: “P. maculiventris is sold as a biological pest control, and appears to be the most common species in the southeastern United States.”

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination