Orange beetle eating/killing a spider?
Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
April 6, 2011 5:28 am
My sister took this photo in her backyard in Melbourne, Australia,
She said that it appeared that the beetle/bug was dragging the spider along and thought that the spider was the prey. Eventually the bug dropped the spider and she didn’t see what happened to either of them. You can probably tell from the photo that both spider and bug were pretty massive.
I thought the bug might be some sort of assassin bug but it doesn’t really look too much like any of the photos of them I’ve been able to find on the net.
This magnificent predator is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae and we believe it is Cryptocheilus bicolor which is pictured on the Brisbane Insect website. The drama would seem to imply that the Spider Wasp is going to enjoy a large meal, but in fact, Spider Wasps feed on nectar. Female Spider Wasps provision a nest with Spiders that are paralyzed, but not killed, by a sting. The Spider Wasp lays a single egg on the paralyzed Spider which then provides a fresh meal for the larval wasp. If the Spider was killed first, it would dry up and the wasp larva would starve. Keeping the Spider paralyzed ensures a fresh meal for the larva. Many Spider Wasps are selective about the types of Spiders they hunt, and Cryptocheilus bicolor is generally associated with Huntsman Spiders. The nest is of this species is an underground burrow, and once the prey has been paralyzed, the Spider Wasp must transport the heavy load to the nest. We believe the Spider Wasp climbs to a high point and glides with the prey since taking off in flight with so much weight would not be possible. The bricks in this photo provide a nice sense of scale.
Thank you so much for your quick and very informative response!
This is definitely the insect that is pictured – the photo and behavioural traits match exactly… What an interesting life cycle!
I will pass this information on to my sister who will be very pleased to see the “mystery” solved. She will perhaps also be happy to know she has a native creepy crawly that is keeping the huntsman numbers down a little!
Thanks again for getting back to me.