Currently viewing the tag: "food chain"
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

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