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 responses to “Sunday Art: Assassin”

  1. nice photos!

    1. Thanks! I’m really loving the macro lens.

  2. PapaPat .Patterson Avatar
    PapaPat .Patterson

    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. Lol! Well, yes, it is good to be peak predator. Unless you’re in Bear Country.

      1. The Other Sean Avatar
        The Other Sean

        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).

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