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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?

It was hard to get the Bug of the Week photograph this week because we've been having a lot of gusting wind. Wind tends to interfere both by causing the plant to move about and also causing the light to flicker as branches move by.

In fact I was downloading some plant photographs when I noticed this:

thai-basil-plant045Do you see it? No, not the Thai basil plant, but the insect.

I admit I didn't see it until the photograph was on my computer screen. When I went back out, there it was.

mini-mantis-be014Do you see it now?