Currently viewing the tag: "food chain"

Subject:  What’s this bee, hornet, wasp?
Geographic location of the bug:  Southwestern pa. South of Pittsburgh
Date: 09/06/2021
Time: 10:40 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  At a local playground South of Pittsburgh pa. This thing was on the sign. The larger bug was between 1 and 1.25 inches long not including legs. It appeared to be eating/mating with a “normal” sized bee/wasp. Is this one of those “murder hornets”? I haven’t heard of them in this area yet… Or is this just some large wasp… Thanks for any info.
How you want your letter signed:  The Robe

Red Footed Cannibalfly Eats Wasp

Dear The Robe,
This is neither a Bee, nor a hornet nor a wasp.  It is a Red Footed Cannibalfly, a predatory Robber Fly that feeds on large flying insects, including bee, hornets and wasps.

Subject:  Identify this wasp
Geographic location of the bug:  Greensboro,NC
Date: 08/27/2021
Time: 09:27 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I was hiking a trail at battleground park with my fiance in Greensboro and we came across this wasp dragging a spider twice it size on the trailer were walking. Would you let us know what it is.
How you want your letter signed:  Jrp

Spider Wasp with Wolf Spider Prey

Dear Jrp,
This is a Spider Wasp in the family Pompilidae, and though your image lacks the necessary detail for a definite identification, we believe your individual is
Tachypompilus ferrugineus.  This species preys upon Wolf Spiders, not to eat, but to feed to her brood.

Subject:  unknown dragonfly
Geographic location of the bug:  sidney, ohio
Date: 08/11/2021
Time: 05:53 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  As it was happening, I couldn’t identify the animal or its action but with a zoomed image from my camera I see that a dragonfly is eating the butterfly.  Later that day I found a wing from the butterfly under this power line.
I live in Sidney, Ohio, USA.  This picture was taken 2 Aug ’21.
I believe that I’ve identified the butterfly as an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.  I was excited to find what I believed to be the identification of the dragonfly.  It looks very much like a Male Southern Vicetail, Hemigomphus gouldii as pictured here (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Green_eyes_dragonfly_HNP_face_(16072822547).jpg).
I was disheartened when I learned that the Vicetail is indigenous to southeastern Australia so probably not my dragonfly.
Any help in its identification is greatly appreciated.
How you want your letter signed:  Charlie

Dragonhunter eats Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Dear Charlie,
Daniel has been in Northeast Ohio for two weeks now and the butterflies, Lightning Bugs and Cicadas are all amazing this year.  Your Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a female as evidenced by the blue scales on the hind wings.  We turned to Ohio Dragonflies to identify this impressive hunter and we believe we have identified it as a Dragon Hunter on pg 44 where it states:  “
While not very common, when seen this dragonfly will be noticed and remembered. It is our largest clubtail and probably the heaviest of all Ohio dragonflies. Its large thorax and small head are distinctive. As the name suggests, it eats large prey including dragonflies up to the size of the swift river cruiser. They are very sensitive to pollution, and thus require clean streams. The distinctive, large (1 to 1.5-inch across) roundish-shaped larvae spend up to four years living under leaf litter and bark debris at the river’s edge.”  This BugGuide image is a very close match to the eyes and yellow thoracic markings evident in your image.  Thanks for submitting this awesome Food Chain image.

Subject:  Unidentified predatory insect Italy
Geographic location of the bug:  Abruzzo Italy
Date: 07/04/2021
Time: 12:01 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello, can you help me identify this obviously predatory insect which appears to be feeding on a bee. The photo was taken 1/7/2021 in Abruzzo Itay. I have shown the photo locally but no-one seems to recognise it.
Many thanks
How you want your letter signed:  J. Seymour

Robber Fly eats Honey Bee

Dear J. Seymour,
This is one impressive Robber Fly in the family Asilidae.  We believe it is
Pogonosoma maroccanum which is pictured in our archives.   It is pictured on the Global Biodiversity Information Facility site and on the Smithsonian EOL site.

Subject:  Big Fly, Wasp, or other?
Geographic location of the bug:  Truckee, CA
Date: 06/30/2021
Time: 05:54 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I had this large flying insect land on my porch and it appeared to be eating a flying ant. The unknown insect almost looked like a large, elongated horse fly but it might have had a stinger. It had brightly colored orange/red legs
How you want your letter signed:  Ross

Giant Robber Fly eats Termite Alate

Dear Ross,
We enjoyed researching your query, but we are only confident with our identification of your Robber Fly to the family level, though we are gambling that we have also correctly identified the genus.  We believe this is a Giant Robber Fly in the genus
Promachus and it looks very similar to this unidentified individual posted to BugGuide as well as this unidentified individual in our own archives, both unidentified individuals having been sighted in California.  California Robbers identifies four species of Promachus from California, however none of those have red legs.  We suspect this might be either an undescribed species or possibly a species not previously identified in California.  The prey is a reproductive Termite alate, probably the Western Drywood Termite which is pictured on the UC Master Gardeners website.  Perhaps one of our readers will be able to provide a more conclusive identification.

Thank you for the information! I found this all quite interesting!

Subject:  Karner blue butterfly
Geographic location of the bug:  Albany Pine Bush, Albany, NY
Date: 05/27/2020
Time: 05:43 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi What’s that Bug!
Here’s a mystery for you. I’m quite certain this is a Karner blue butterfly, Plebejus melissa samuelis. You may be aware that our Albany Pine Bush in upstate New York is one of the few habitats this endangered subspecies can thrive, since its larvae feed only on the wild blue lupine that grows here. I saw quite a few Karner blues out among the lupines on this visit! None of our other local blues have that much orange along the wing, so it has to be a Karner.
The mystery: what the heck is going on with its abdomen? What is that orange stuff at the end? I thought it might be laying an egg, but as far as I can tell their eggs are light gray or white, not orange. And anyway it’s not on a lupine–I think the plant is a raspberry or blackberry. It stayed in this position for a couple of minutes before fluttering off, and I didn’t realize there was anything weird until I looked at the photos.
I’ll also include a better image of a different individual for your enjoyment. This little guy seemed to be more interested in lapping up my sweat than anything else–I tried to coax it onto a lupine, but it wouldn’t leave!
How you want your letter signed:  Susan B.

Male Karner Blue exposing his genitalia

Dear Susan,
Though we are quite excited to post your Karner Blue images, we will start with the mystery.  We don’t know what that is, but we suspect it is not a good thing.  We suspect this might be evidence of parasitism, possibly Dipteran, meaning a type of fly.  Though we don’t often site Wikipedia, it does provide this information “A tachinid fly,
Aplomya theclarum, has also been listed as a Karner blue butterfly parasite.”*  We will attempt to get a second opinion on this matter.  Meanwhile, we really are thrilled with your images of Karner Blues.  Not only was it described by one of Daniel’s favorite writers, Vladimir Nabokov, it is a new species for our site that currently contains over postings. 

Karner Blue

*Haack, Robert A. (1993). “The endangered Karner blue butterfly (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae): biology, management considerations, and data gaps”. In Gillespie, Andrew R.; Parker, George R.; Pope, Phillip E. (eds.). Proceedings, 9th central hardwood forest conference; 1993 March 8–10; West Lafayette, IN. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-161. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. pp. 83–100.

Thank you so much for your reply! I was pretty excited to spot so many Karner blues that day—usually I don’t get out to the Pine Bush until later in the year, when they are scarcer. I’ll be going back early in the morning to see if I can catch them basking with their wings open.
That’s a good thought that the orange mass may be parasites. I hadn’t even considered that it could be somebody else’s eggs. I’ve sent the image along to the staff at the Albany Pine Bush to see if they can identify it for sure, and also so that they can document it, since they monitor all the happenings with the wildlife there.
Susan B.
Karner blue update—I heard back from the entomologist at the Albany Pine Bush regarding the weird orange mass on my Karner blue butterfly. Here’s her response (with her permission to share):
“Hi Susan,
Thanks for sending along the images! I have to tell you, what you are seeing there at the end of the abdomen is rated PG-13. What you captured is the genitalia of a male karner. They don’t usually flash them like that, it is unusual to see as they are usually kept internally until mating. An interesting thing to document, for sure! Thanks again for sharing.
Best,
Dillon”
What a relief to hear that I was only witnessing a bit of lepidopteran exhibitionism, and not a parasite infestation (fascinating though that would be)!
-Susan B.

Thanks for the fascinating update Susan.  It is interesting that Nabokov classified many of the Blues using a theoretical taxonomy that he devised after dissecting the genitalia of museum specimens.