Monday, September 9, 2013

Spiders kill stupid bugs! And a fly mystery...

My front porch, with its attendant nightlight. Many a cool moth, and other interesting bugs, routinely turn up here in spite of my urban location. I've made scores of images of insects literally right outside my front door, such as THIS, and even THIS.

Not long ago, a pair of Variable Orbweavers, Neoscona crucifera, have taken up residence on the porch. Their massive webs tent in about one-third of the porch, but I don't mind. The spiders hide under overarching shingles during the day; I can see them peeking out when I peer up there. Come nightfall, they emerge and descend to commence web rehabilitation and prepare for the night's hunting.

Here's one of the Variable Orbweavers, peeking shyly at your narrator. If I approach with caution, they'll tolerate my presence. These hefty spiders fare well in their locations, routinely snagging moths, and other tasty (to them) meals.

And now, the "stupid bug" of this post's title: a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, Halyomorpha halys, also photographed near my door. It wouldn't take much of a skim of this blog to determine that I LIKE BUGS. Just not THIS BUG. These introduced Asian pests have skyrocketed in abundance, and their annoyance factor rates a 10. They are adept at slipping into homes, and once in the room, must be dealt with. They whir noisily about, colliding with things, and one just cannot rest until the offending bug has been dispatched. But whack them with care - they are not named stink bugs for nothing. Too much mistreatment and they'll release a noxious musk.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs are also death on certain plants. They tap into plant juices, especially the fruit of trees, and destroy the crop. Orchardists hate them with a vengeance.

So one can only imagine my delight when I glanced out the door the other night to see that one of my spiders had nailed a stink bug and was sucking it dry. Yes! I've seen them with stink bugs a few times now, including tonight, when I arrived home from work.

So, upon arrival this evening, and the discovery of a freshly whacked stink bug having its innards sucked dry, I retrieved the camera for a few shots. Here's a blurry picture of Senorita Spider enjoying her meal, but the shot isn't blurry because I don't know how to focus the camera. As soon as I turned the macro lens on her and her victim, I noticed something really interesting. A tiny fly was also enjoying the spoils! Now, I don't know with certainty whether this miniscule fly (species unknown, to me) was lapping up the juices spawned by the insertion of the spider's proboscis, or if it was laying eggs on the corpse. When I first noticed the fly, it was quite near the spider's mouthparts. In fact, at one point the spider took a leg and seemed to quite deliberately flick the fly away, to the position it is in in this photo..

Another, closer view of the fly. Little mysteries such as this intrigue me. Is there a group of flies that jumps onto fresh spider kills and deposits eggs on the victim? If you know anything about such a phenomenon, please let me know.

1 comment:

Keith K said...

Ha, after spending the summer drowning them in soapy water I have switched to feeding the large spiders in my yard all the Brown Marmorated Stinkbugs I find.