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

Query Damsel Flies mating followed by cannibalism
I was photographing these Eastern Forktail Damselflies (July 25th) and after mating the male appeared to be killing and eating the female. The wings actually fell off. I ‘Googled’ the query Damselfly Mating and Cannibalism and came to your site.
Marlene Walker
Huntsville, Ontario, Canada

Hi Marlene,
We are curious to hear from any experts regarding what we suspect is an unusual phenomenon. Postcoital Cannibalism is not that rare in the world of insects and arthropods since a male sperm donar will also provide a hearty meal for the female who now has the burdon of laying eggs. She needs her nourishment. The role reversal in your Damselfly image would seem to be an anomaly.

Correction: (09/03/2008)
Hello, I am a NY Dragonfly and Damselfly surveyor and am responding to the email below. The damselfly was identified as a male but it is in fact a female Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis). While it is not common for a female to eat the male it is not unheard of. Dragonflies and damselflies are frequently seen eating other dragonflies and damselflies.
Annette Oliveira
Long Island, New York

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Location is Hawthorne, CA – Volucella bombylans?
Dear Bugman,
I emailed you a while ago with a blurry photo of something I’d not seen before. Today I was able to get sharp shots of this bug and it’s prey. I’ve attached two of them in hopes that you will be able to tell me if it is a hoverfly. Thanks for your time! I’m in Hawthorne, California – please don’t send me directly to the Trash!!! Sincerely,
Anna Carreon

Hi Anna,
This is a species of Robber Fly known as a Bee Killer. It is Mallophora fautrix, which accoring to BugGuide, is the only species in the genus found in California. We received another photo a few days ago. Putting an unusual scientific name in your subject line was a good way to get our attention.

Hi Daniel,
Thanks for your information. A cousin of mine saw the posting of the Mallophora fautrix posted on your site and emailed me about it (I hadn’t been out to the site since the day before it was posted). What an interesting creature this is! I’d never seen one before, and my mother, who lives .3 miles away, is now in search of one in her back yard. She says she’s never seen one in her 77 years of life and she’s determined to see one in her next 77 years.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

I just came across your website (thanks to Google) because I was trying to identify a wasp that we had never seen before. We live in southeastern Massachusetts and have just recently seen this wasp and, until today, had only seen one, but today we saw two. So I went to your website to try to identify it, but I couldn’t be absolutely sure of the markings, so I went outside to take some pictures of it. Boy, did I get a bonus!!! One of the wasps came home with a huge bug which I assume is some sort of cicada. Can you tell I’m not into insects?!? I was lucky enough to get a couple of pictures of the wasp with its prey as well as its nest. Hope you can use them on your site. If you can give me any information on these wasps, I would appreciate it. Thanks and keep up the good work on your website.
Susan Augustus
South Dartmouth, MA

Hi Susan,
Your Cicada Killer Wasp is living up to its name. The larval wasps feed entirely on Cicadas that have been paralyzed by the female wasp. Male Cicada Killers, which do not sting, often act aggressively when defending their territory.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Bee or a Fly?
I took this picture on 7/3/08 in the mountains near Helen, GA. It startled me as it flew by because I have never seen anything like this. I have seen the large Cicada Killer flying with a Cicada in its grips and that is an impressive site to see. But, I have not seen this insect before. It apparently has a Japanese Beetle in its grip. Is this a bee or a fly?
Patrick Crone

Hi Patrick,
This is a Bee-Like Robber Fly in the genus Laphria, but we are not certain of the species. BugGuide depicts several possibilities, but nothing looks exact and we feel a true expert is needed to be conclusive. People currently being plagued by the invasive Japanese Beetle will be happy to see your photo.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

For years I had thought that Solpugids were ‘Vinegaroons’ because when we moved up here (Mojave Desert) that is what we were told. We were also told that they if you were biten by one, you’d taste vinegar for a week or two. I know better now and I am very, very jealous that the Solpugids you have posted on your site are bigger than any of the ones I have seen. I usually only see babies/teens. I was out an hour ago looking at a baby Mantis when I saw this fight going on between a baby Solpugid and some kind of beetle. Don’t know if you will read this but thought you might enjoy this picture anyway. I felt bad for that beetle.

Hi K,
Please don’t have Solpugid envy. Your photo is, we believe, the first we have received of a Solpugid eating. We will also post your image to our Food Chain section. We think the prey is a Ground Beetle, but the photo hasn’t enough detail to be certain.

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