From the monthly archives: "February 2008"

Question
Hello,
I heard about your site in German TV and so I remembered a photo I’d taken in 2006 in Sweden. That little bug is “torturing” a bumble-bee by pinching its proboscis. Can you tell me what ‘s happening there? Kind regards
H.Koslowski

Hi H,
You are the second letter we received today that mentioned seeing our site on television. Our first job is to identify your beetle. This appears to be a Flea Beetle in the tribe Alticini, but we would like verification. Hopefully, Eric Eaton can substantiate that. This diminutive beetle cannot possibly think the bee is food, but it might be hitching a ride, a phenomenon known as Phoresy. We hope to get clarification on that from Eric Eaton as well.

Hi, Daniel:
That is a really remarkable shot of the beetle clamped onto the bumble bee! It is not a flea beetle, or any other type of Chrysomelidae leaf beetle as far as I can tell (flea beetles get their name from their ability to jump, not because they are parasitic). I suspect it is some kind of sap beetle (family Nitidulidae), some of which can be abundant inside flowers.
Eric

Update: (02/08/2008)
Hello Daniel,
I think I have a proper guess what sort of a beetle this might be! It belongs to the genus Antherophagus (fam. Cryptophagidae, silken fungus beetles), which has three species in Sweden, all developing in nests of bumble bees. I think this one is A. pallens (Linnaeus, 1758) (~4 mm), which is the most common species of the genus. All species visit flowers to clamp onto bumble bees to hitch a ride and infest their nests. But the larvae are supposed to be harmless to their hosts, feeding on the bees’ faeces. So this is a perfect example of a picture showing the start of a Phoresy! Best,
Bengt Andersson Sweden

Hello Bugman!!
my name is phil and i live in a small town called wondai in QLD australia and i found this spider on a dirt road in the bush on one of my long walks, it was about 5 cm in diameter, was very low and close to the ground and was really really fast. What is it?

We thought this looked like one of the American Fishing Spiders in the genus Dolomedes. Some research we did indicates, according to Wikipedia, that there are several Australian species, but we have been unsuccessful in locating any images that will corroborate this. If this spider was near a body of water, that is additional support that our speculation is correct. Perhaps our faithful reader and contributor Grev will have more luck with an exact identification.

Wolf Spider Eating Gekko 4 inches accross
I have submitted my photos before my friend loves your site and asked me to submit again. http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbatt/943440659/in/photostream/ this has the picture and the story and there are more photos that you are free to put up on your site. “So I moved a sawhorse in my shed and a medium large Gecko lizard went scurrying toward the corner of the shed. It’s not unusual to see lizards and geckos in my yard. Geckos are very fast and I have never been able to take a picture of one. But this Gecko stopped behind a lawn chair so being curious I pulled the chair back to revel the Gecko on it’s back tail wiggling like a worm. Thats odd I thought so I looked closer and there to my amazement was the Largest Wolf spider I have ever seen. It caught the Gecko while it was running and had a firm grasp of it’s neck. At first I was startled but my next thought was Where is my camera? I got the camera and in that time the spider had moved up the wall with the gecko in it’s mouth. … I grabed the tape measure for a size reference I didn’t get too close with it I didn’t want to scare the spider off. The tape is a couple inches closer to the camera than the spider but it’s close enough to be a good measure of the spider. “
MattBatt

Hi MattBatt,
First, let us apologize for missing your photos the first time you sent them. We cannot even read every letter we receive. Your photos are great, but they are not a Wolf Spider. This is a Giant Crab Spider, probably in the genus Olios. Sadly, you did not provide us with a location.

So sorry I live in Orlando FL I have several large oak trees in the back yard so it’s nice and damp and dark back there. I have not seen the spider since the day after when she was fat and happy. My mother and wife continue to harass me about the fact that I didn’t kill the spider. Thank You for Identifying it. I looked at the pics of the crab spider and wolf spider but couldn’t make an ID on my own. Thanks
MattBatt

Hi again MattBatt,
Thanks for the information. In a most general way, our identification has not changed, but now we believe your Giant Crab Spider might be a female Heteropoda venatoria, also known as a Huntsman Spider or a Banana Spider, two names also shared with different species. We located a photo on BugGuide that matches yours and also one on a Florida Nature website. While this is definitely a Giant Crab Spider, we cannot be certain of the species.