It’s a bug-eat-bug world

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Over the last few weeks I’ve collected up quite a number of photos of predator-prey interactions in the invertebrate world. I’ve been doing a bit of “housecleaning” in my computer’s file folders, going back and revisiting photos I took at the beginning of June and trying to sort things out into some semblance of an organized filing system (the jury’s still out on how effective it actually is). I came across these and thought I’d throw them all into a post together.

Most of the photos could actually be “it’s a spider-eat-bug world”. Jumping spiders, such as this one, are one of the groups I see most often with prey. Perhaps this is partially because they’re one of the groups I see more often in general. Perhaps it has to do with their method of hunting (since they don’t use webs, they have to hold on to their prey).

Spiders are like flies for me – if I can put it into a general family, I feel I’ve done good. There are a few distinctive species, by by and large a lot of them look the same to me. The large, forward-facing eyes and stocky build identify it as a jumping spider, family Salticidae. My best guess for this is a member of the genus Eris, maybe Eris militaris, the Bronze Jumper, aka Bronze Lake Jumper, which seems to be a fairly common and widespread species. It’s eating a cricket. I spotted it a couple of weeks ago on an open rock at Rock Ridge.

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On the same visit, I snapped this photo. It’s of an unidentified clubtail, munching away at a deer fly. The dragonfly had snagged the fly out of the air as it buzzed about my head, and then settled on the rocks only a few feet away to enjoy it. It’s too bad you can’t train the dragonflies to buzz around your head patrolling for deer flies.

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This spider also has a deer fly, but it didn’t catch it out of the air. I’d been wearing that sticky tape that you put on the back of your hat, which snags the deer flies when they land on it. However, it seems to decrease in efficiency as it fills up, so I’d been pulling the caught flies off the tape and tossing them on to the rock. I can’t bring myself to crush them with my fingers, but as I pulled them off often a wing would remain stuck to the tape (it’s very effective stuff), and the spider snagged one of the flightless flies. I think it might be a type of wolf spider, many species of which are hunters rather than web-builders.

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Another one of those discarded flies got picked up by this ant. The fly was easily twice the size of the ant, but she was marching along with it like it weighed nothing at all. She couldn’t even really see where she was going, and I wonder if she was following a pheromone trail or if she was just wandering blindly.

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Another jumping spider, this one spotted on the trunk of a tree with an unidentified fly prey. It could be a female Maevia inclemens, Dimorphic Jumper, which seem to have that pale abdomen with two red stripes. The males, true to the species’ name, are either black or grayish, with white legs.

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And the last one is of the Goldenrod Crab Spider, Misumena vatia, that has been sitting in the Allium in my garden. One day when I checked on it, she had caught something. That something was a bee, possibly a mason bee (genus Osmia) of some sort. My favourite part of this photo is that you can see the bee’s tongue still hanging out, the tapered, orange-tipped appendage hanging from its head.

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5 responses to “It’s a bug-eat-bug world

  1. I think I’ve been surfing the web too much because the first thing that popped into my head when I saw these pics was: “NOM, NOM, NOM!”

    No more LOL cats for me….

  2. Very cool shots. I especially like the bee tongue: it gives a sense of suddenness to the encounter.

    Oh, it’s really nice of you to capture healthy organic food for the critters you meet when you’re out and about. I’m not sure the deer flies appreciate it, but all the other species sure do!

  3. These photos are really good.

  4. Training a cadre of guard dragonflies sounds intriguing — a small project for your spare time.

    Nice shots!

  5. Pingback: The best of 2009 « the Marvelous in nature

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