Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ambush Bug

Three weeks ago I posted about a Bumble Bee that I found hanging by its mandibles from a flower. Now I’ve found a second bee, a Honey Bee, in the same position. This bee is dead, or at least completely unresponsive, according to the standard poke-with-a-stick test.

Maybe this is not an uncommon end for a bee. It’s just something I’ve not encountered before, and now I’ve seen it in two species this month. I’ll just have to pay attention and see if I can spot some more.

But, enlarging a digital image allows me to see things I could never see in the field. Look to the left of the bee’s eye. That’s not a plant part. That bee has been snared.

Although this isn’t the best of images, I believe this to be an Ambush Bug, of the family Phymatidae. The Ambush Bug hides in flowers and captures prey that is considerably larger than itself. Its coloration is a perfect match for this milkweed flower.

Here is a rather unfocused image of the entire bug. Quite an impressive job of camouflage. It’s hard to focus on something when you don’t even realize it’s there.

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