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Predators and Prey

Okay, trying to put these behind a cut. Let me know if it doesn't work for anybody. If you are an in RSS feed and sensitive to unsettling images, LOOK AWAY NOW. I got two shots of predation going on. They are good shots but if they will trouble your sleep, look away.

This thoughtful mantis wants you to look away.

Okay. We shall assume that if you made it past the Thoughtful Mantis, you want to see this.
[Mild Horrors Await!]

This is a Red Polistes Wasp, probably P. carolina. It's decimated a Genistes Broom Caterpillar, much to my delight, since those suckers have completely overrun my Baptisia and nothing eats them except wasps. It's not so much that it's a great photo as just...look at that thing! That is a marvel of diabolical engineering right there!

And here's the one that I flattened a fair amount of flowers charging after:

I'm not QUITE certain, but I think this is the extraordinarily wonderfully named "Red-Footed Cannibalfly." It had just taken a bumblebee, probably a Brown-Belted, but I am even less sure of that. (It was about the size of an Eastern Carpenter Bee, but obviously I wasn't going to try to take it away and get an ID, and the local yellow-faced bees usually turn out to be Brown Belteds.)

It was not terribly happy with my paparazzi treatment, but I chased it down and got a photo of the crime, perched on a mallow stalk.

Robberflies are powerful predators and this one is a giant, known as a "Bee Panther." (How badass is that!?) It is so large that there are even reports of it tackling hummingbirds!  (There is only one report of one actually succeeding, and that was the even larger "Beelzebub Bee-Eater," the largest robberfly in North America.)

And, bonus, This Mantis Has Been Eating Recently (at least, I'm pretty sure that's what that is...)

It was actually grooming its mouth bits when I took the photo. Kinda creepy, honestly.

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Insect Inquirer!
All headlines and in your fractal eye predator shots!

Mantises have the BEST eyes -- I love how they manage to be so expressive! It's the moving pupil (not sure if the structure has the same name?) that does it, I think :)

Lovely shots of Nature red in tooth and mandible.

You must have mad quick-shot reflexes: by the time I get close enough, focus and snap the shot, the bee-mantis-butterfly is either a blur taking off or completely gone. And I'm not slow, either: we're talking just under a second for all that.

Or do you have some trick? Something you aerosol to make them calm? Crazy earth-witch magic?

The butterfly pics amaze me the most in this vein.

Well, I'm not sure about the crazy earth-witch magic, but I definitely don't have any sprays! That'd be...I don't know how that would work. I hear rumors that sometimes the really amazing insect shots are done by sticking them in the freezer for ten minutes to send them into torpor, but that seems very unkind.

Mostly I just run around like a loon bobbing up and down and trying to get the shot before they fly away!

Mostly I just run around like a loon bobbing up and down and trying to get the shot before they fly away!

Okay, with that image in my head, you MUST have Kevin do a time-lapse video of you doing this, and upload it with a "Yakety Sax" soundtrack! YouTube GOLD!

Oh, Ursula, it's obvious your years of cultivating that garden is the best kind of earth witch magic because how else would you attract such wonderful predators?

Incredible shots. Thanks so much for posting them here.

Wow, fantastic shots! The last one actually makes me laugh. He's like the guy at the bar with Buffalo wing sauce on his face.

Predatory insects in action! I am a happy Saint. Thank you!

I so love the mantis eyes. Those not-quite pupils are wonderful!

Awesome! Wish I could catch the predators in the act in my yard. I see the wasps flying around, but I have yet to see them take anything. Also, I have followed a number of jumping spiders (I find them adorable), but I have never seen them jump on anything.

Come to think of it, I did once see a swarm of ants harassing a caterpillar. I did not stay for the end because it took more than thirty minutes and the ants seemed no closer to bringing it down than they had at the beginning. I took a video, but it might be hard for people to watch. Swarm of ants, after all.

Warning for description of Bug Predation!

I once had a mantis, a toad, and a daddy longlegs in the front yard. After some deliberation, I, er, kinda fed the daddy longlegs to the mantis. It was astounding. It ate that thing like SPAGHETTI! And then washed its face like a cat after!

So, er, yeh. >_>

Re: Warning for description of Bug Predation!

I used to feed ants to spiders when I was small, also various insects to mantises when I could catch them. And crickets and worms for the bronze frogs... bit bloodthirsty I guess, but at least somebody else is getting something out of it in such cases :P

Re: Warning for description of Bug Predation!

I pretty much don't deal well with anything that has more than four legs. And living in an older house, I have lots of them...especially centipedes.

So last night was a study in mixed emotions. I walked into the kitchen and caught a blur of motion as something small and beetle-shaped scuttled under the dishwasher. Turned my head, and there was a centipede coming up the stairwell wall.

Rather than going into my usual bug-killing frenzy, I silently wished the centipede good hunting and a good dinner, turned off the light, and left the kitchen.

As long as it doesn't leave its leftovers out in the middle of the floor, it's all good.

Re: Warning for description of Bug Predation!

We have a ranch-style house (a "rambler" in MN terms) which means a first floor and a basement. The centipedes live in the basement. I'm good with that. If they come upstairs they run the risk of becoming cat toys, and I am also good with that.

Re: Warning for description of Bug Predation!

You know what mantises won't eat? Stinkbugs. They act like stinkbugs aren't even on the "consider" list.

And moths with a great deal of body fur didn't go over well with our mantis, either.

Re: Warning for description of Bug Predation!

NOTHING eats stinkbugs.

Re: Warning for description of Bug Predation!

I recently got a sundew and have taken to feeding it any bugs I can catch. Preferably still alive, but it will curl up on the squashed ones, too, just not as fast.

Re: Warning for description of Bug Predation!

Once upon a time, during what I will for ease of description refer to as a week-long camping trip, a mantis took up residence on one of the poles of my tent, under the rain fly, and spent the week scattering grasshopper legs ALL OVER MY DAMN TENT. Apparently grasshopper legs are not as edible as the rest of the grasshopper.

You've got a bit of something on...your eye...

*licks tissue, wipes it off*

"Zorak, where's your nephew?"
"Who? Oh, um, I devoured him..."

Fascinating pics.....but I have to admit, if I had to choose between caterpillars and that red-wasp-from-hell.....

The facial mohawk on that Cannibalfly...

Amazing photos! I have a soft spot for mantises in particular.

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