sharing a conjugal assassination
Wed, May 6, 2009 at 12:27 AM
First let me say that I love your site! I use it all the time to find out what kind of critters I come across in my random days. AWESOME! While this is not a request for identification, I thought I’d share a nifty story about my first encounter with an 8-Spotted Forrester Moth. This was the only way to share the photos.
In March of 08 it was really windy as per usual, but I was bound and determined to take pictures of bugs. I was very excited to find a very colorful “butterfly” on one of the trees lining my driveway. Those trees are great as they have LOTS of flowers in the springtime and attract many bees and fluttery things for me to enjoy and photo. Well this little beauty seemed to be stuck somehow and didn’t/couldn’t fly away like they normally do when I get so close. Being one to take advantage of a situation I snipped the tip of the branch and brought it inside so I could get a better, calmer view.
Imagine my surprise when I followed the tongue of my “butterfly” down through the flowers into the mighty grip of a little female assassin! WOW! It was VERRRY windy that day so she must have been holding on insanely tight! Being as the (later identified) moth was already caught and most of the damage done I decided to let the macabre show play out and see what kinds of pictures I could get. Well they’re not quite the quality I was hoping for, but they’re clear enough to tell a story and get a point across. In the first diptych you can see her hanging on to the tongue (left) while he takes the lion’s share (right). In the second image was the “adults only” portion of the show where she was allowed to get hers while he *ahem* “got his”. The excitement of that capture was apparently great enough that he just couldn’t wait. And because they are so difficult to see amid the flowers the third image shows him strutting his stuff across the edge of a leaf as victor and stud.
Hope you enjoyed as much as I did. Creepy though it was, it was still way neat-o to see! the assassins were put back outside afterward to continue doing what they do. Unfortunately 1 moth was harmed in the process of making these photos, but that’s how nature rolls!
Mary in Magnolia, Texas
Thanks so much for your graphic photos and riveting first hand, eye witness account of this mating and food chain marvel. We only have one slight correction. The amorous hungry couple are Assassin Bugs, but they are in the Ambush Bug subfamily Phymatinae . It was not until we searched BugGuide that we became aware of the taxonomic change as Phymatidae was once a distinct family. Thanks for providing this wonderful cross-tagged submission.