Art, science

Sunday Art: Assassin

One of the things about hunting for bugs is that I get to observe them at their daily lives. And sometimes I catch the most secretive of them in the act. On this particular day I was out with the macro lens, when I spotted a tachnid fly sitting on a Black-Eyed Susan. I maneuvered closer to catch a nice shot of the pollinator, but I realized that something wasn’t right. The fly was too still. And then I noticed why the fly wasn’t moving – it was not feeding, it was being fed on. 

The Tachnid Fly never had a chance.

The Jagged Ambush Bug (Phymata pennsylvanica) is named in part for it’s outline – like a ghillie suit, the rough outlines of it’s chitinous exoskeleton break up the shape that might give it away. Instead of looking like a bug, it looks more like a dead leaf or petal.  Which is what allows it to live up to the second part of it’s name and ambush the unwary who alight on a flower, never seeing the predator lying in wait, usually just below the petals. With it’s strong grasping front legs, shaped more like a mantis’ claspers, it can hold on until it has a chance to pierce the unwary insect’s exoskeleton at a vulnerable joint – here, you can see that it has entered the fly between thorax and abdomen – and begin to feed. Like a kid with a straw in a milkshake. 

Photos were all taken with my Canon and macro lens, manual focus freehand, exposure 1/400 sec at f 5.0 and ISO 100.  

7 thoughts on “Sunday Art: Assassin

  1. Another data point to include in my back-to-school essay, “Why I was glad I am at the top of the food chain during my summer vacation.”

      1. Or if you are inattentive in Gator Country. Or if a shark decides to intrude upon your coastal vacation. Or not so coastal – bull sharks have even been spotted in the Mississippi River north of Saint Louis, and there have been a few authentic reports of them in the Ohio (as well as some fake stories).

  2. I’ll send you some of my seed blend. S More flowers, more bugs! More great shots. It draws pollenaters, butterflies, moths. Spiders .

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