Bug of the Week

Nature can be full of drama.

For example:

full-praying-mantis-and-paper-waspWe've had a Mediterranean mantis,  Iris oratoria, on the rush milkweeds for a few weeks. Today it caught a paper wasp, Polistes flavus.

praying-mantis-feeding-on-paper-wasp-364You can see the wasp better in this view.

praying-mantis-removing-wasp-wing-0348At one point the mantis removed the wasp's wing and dropped it. Wings apparently aren't edible.

praying-mantis-wasp-fly-cool334Soon another insect joined the party.

praying-mantis-fly-on-head-0343A tiny black fly began walking on the wasp and mantis.

mantis-flyIt might seem like the fly was incidental, but it isn't. Small black flies of the family Milichiidae are known to steal food from predatory insects and spiders. It is a behavior known as kleptoparasitism.

Being a freeloader that steals food from a predatory insect seems like it might be a dangerous lifestyle, but the mantis seems occupied with the wasp and is not reacting to the fly.

See more about the flies at Milichiddae Online and What's That Bug?

Have you ever spotted a freeloader fly?

Arizona's seasons are often out of sync, especially in the Sonoran Desert. When everyone else is shutting down and getting ready for fall and winter, our wildlife is gearing up. A few weeks ago, we featured some insect eggs. Now we have caterpillars and chrysalids galore.


Take this larva of a queen butterfly resting on a rush milkweed. It is taking advantage of the new growth the plants are putting out after recent rains.

queen-chrysalis-003Some of the faster developing larvae have already transformed into chrysalids. They will soon be adult queen butterflies.

skipper-on-cordiaThe skipper butterflies have already reached adulthood and are ready to lay eggs again.

Check out this post by Margarethe Brummermann who says there were 28 species of butterflies (as well as other insects) in Madera Canyon this week. She also posted an amazing video on Flickr.

 What insects did you see this week?