Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Ambush

As I was wandering along one of our east meadow trails today I noticed a Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala) hanging under an Oxeye Daisy. I approached slowly and managed to take a photo.



The poor thing was much the worse for wear but I could not understand why it was so still when I took its photo. I looked at the other side, for a second photo, and then I noticed why it was so quiet.



The butterfly was attached to an Ambush Bug (Phymatidae family). According to Donald Stokes in his book Observing Insect Lives, Ambush bugs molt 5 times during the summer and then do most of their ambushing on Goldenrod flowers. Even as they are very young, they are deadly to other insects. They lie in wait on or under flowers and when a prey comes by, they grab onto a leg, or some other body part with their special front legs and immediately push their beaklike mouth part into the prey. They first push out a poisonous liquid that both kills their prey and starts to disolve its insides. Then the Ambush Bug just sucks the juices out and discards the remainder.

4 comments:

Anvilcloud said...

I suppose that it takes all kinds, but I don't tend to feel warm and fuzzy toward this creature.

pablo said...

Creepy, yet fascinating. I never get these kinds of pix.

Ontario Wanderer said...

Anvilcloud: Yes, I don't feel too close to this bug either. On the other hand I did spend some time sketching one a few years ago. I'll try to find that sketch.

Pablo: Perhaps you should turn over a new leaf? I suggest a milkweed leaf. I am always finding interesting things under milkweed leaves or on the undersides of larger flowers....

Rurality said...

One can only be grateful that they are not 3 feet tall. Or should I say, a meter tall. (Or a metre tall?) Yuck, yuck.