Subject: what kind of bug is this?
Location: Newark, DE in the United States
August 5, 2014 11:46 am
My kids have been telling me about this crazy looking bug that has been eating bees in our back yard. But I have never seen one personally until today my son pointed one out with a bee captured in its mouth while both are captured in a spider Web! If you could identify this so I can explain to them I would greatly appreciate it alot. Plus for my knowledge also. Thank you greatly and Good bless.
Signature: Pyle Boys

Spider eats Hanging Thief eats Yellowjacket

Spider eats Hanging Thief eats Yellowjacket

Dear Pyle Boys,
We need to begin by telling you we love your documentation of a multi-link Food Chain.  We only wish your image was sharp enough and detailed enough for us to be able to identify the Spider.  The flying predator is a type of Robber Fly known as a Hanging Thief in the genus
Diogmites.  The Hanging Thief gets its common name because it often hangs from one leg while eating the large winged prey, often bees or wasps, that it captures on the wing.  The prey in question is not a bee, but a Yellowjacket.

Multi-Link Food Chair:  Spider eats Fly eats Wasp

Multi-Link Food Chair: Spider eats Fly eats Wasp

I am gonna attach a few more pics of the spider close up and hopefully this can help. And thank you for clearing up the curiosity for me and my sons! And glad you like the food chain effect my son thought it was cool how life works. Thanks again!

Possibly Common House Spider

Possibly Common House Spider

Thanks for sending the additional images, but unfortunately, the images are not critically sharp and it also appears that the color is decidedly cyan/blue, which makes the subtle coloration on the spider difficult to distinguish.  The Hanging Thief and Yellowjacket were quite obvious, but not so with the spider, which may be a Common House Spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum.  You can see the resemblance to this individual on Bugguide.


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Location: Newark, Deleware

4 Responses to Multi-Link Food Chain: Spider eats Hanging Thief eats Yellow Jacket

  1. Jim Harrison says:

    Reminds me of an observation made by Jean-Henri Fabre, the French entomologist. Fabre was watching a parasitic wasp carrying off a honey bee, which would serve as food for its offspring. As the wasp flew past Fabre, it was snatched out of the air by a praying mantis. The mantis began to eat the wasp, which not only kept hold of the bee but continued to nibble the pollen that adhered to the bee’s legs—Fabre had previously noticed that this kind of wasp, though not predatory as an adult, has the habit of helping itself to the pollen it found on its paralyzed victims. Nature is spooky.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for the awesome comment. We have Fabre’s Book of Insects, and your comment is inspiring us to reread his fascinating observations.

  2. Jim Harrison says:

    I don’t know if this particular bit is included in Fabre’s Book of Insects, which, as I understand, is a retelling rather than a straight translation of some parts Fabre’s big work, Souvenirs Entomologiques. I’ve heard that the Book of Insects is faithful to the spirit of Fabre’s books, but I’ve never read it myself. When I was a kid, the local library had a whole series of Fabre books with titles like Life of the Fly, Life of the Spider, and so forth. I read every one of these books I could find. I can’t remember in which one I encountered the story about the wasp: I just hope I’m recalling it accurately since I’m relying on memory. It did make a powerful impression, though.

    • bugman says:

      Thanks for the clarification. If we have the time to read the volume in our possession, we will let you know if we encounter that particular observation.

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