A bee, some bugs and a strange, furry assassin

But first, I digress with a photo of a Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) blossom, just because they are beautiful and they are out. And in this image, a tiny pollinator can be seen poking out of a blossom. Another on one of the buds.

Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa)

Grey Box flowers and friends.

There seem to be more insects and other invertebrates out in recent weeks than for most of summer, but the numbers are still low it seems to me. Regulars like Eucalypt Tip-wilter Bugs ( Amorbus sp.) are about, but fewer than in most years. Both adults and nymphs can be found in our bush at Strangways. They make good subjects as they don’t seem to care about the proximity of the camera, possibly confident in their stinky defenses.The bugs use their sucking mouth parts to draw sap from Eucalypt leaves.

Eucalytpus Tip Wilter bug - Amorbus sp

Eucalyptus Tip-wilter Bug on Grey Box

I think the little hole at the bottom of the body between the second and third pair of legs in the adult is the ostiole through which the stinky emission is delivered if needed.

Eucalytpus Tip Wilter bug - Amorbus sp

The profile of the bug shows the ostiole.

Eucalytpus Tip Wilter bug nymph - Amorbus sp

Eucalyptus Tip-wilter Bug nymph on Grey Box.

Mirid bugs also suck sap from leaves. They are much more slender than the Coreid bugs like Amorbus. I found this one on a Long-leafed Box.

Mirid bug - Zanessa sp

Mirid bug – Zanessa sp.

Up close, the feeding method is more obvious

Mirid Bug - Rayieria sp

Zanessa sp.

I was pleased to get a quick shot of another botherer of the Grey Box, a Leafcutter bee (Megachilidae) These solitary bees live in the ground and line their nests with cuttings of leaves. There seem to be a lot of ground nesting bees checking out the soil surface at present, but they’ve decided not to stick around when the camera is near.

Leafcutter bee  - Megachilidae

Leafcutter Bee

The little wonder that really blew my socks off one night recently was this strange little insect, all of 8mm long, crawling around the base of our lemon tree. I gently picked it up with a leaf to get a good view (and photo) before putting it back on the edged of the planter box where I’d found it.

Ptilocnemus sp.

Had me intrigued!

By trawling through various sites, I found a match on Insects of Tasmania – a very useful web site for identifying insects. It is a Feather-legged Assassin Bug (Ptilocnemus femoralis). Assassin Bugs prey on other insects, ambushing them and then poisoning them with their long mouth parts and injecting enzymes that dissolve the internal organs so the bug can suck the life out of their prey. Ptilocnemus is specialised to feed on ants, secreting a chemical which attracts and paralyses them before the life is sucked out of them. What a find!

Ptilocnemus sp.

Feather-legged Bug (Ptilocnemus femoralis)

11 responses to “A bee, some bugs and a strange, furry assassin

  1. Patrick, I was never particularly interested in bugs until I started following your posts on NN. As I trawled down this lot I was aware of my new-found fascination, then I came to the assassin Bloody hell! You have quite a sense of timing. Thanks heaps for these adventures into the world of very little things.

  2. A fantastic collection of wonderful looking insects. Great macro photography, Patrick.

  3. A fantastic collection of wonderful looking insects. Great macro photography, Patrick.

  4. Invertebrate life has been much reduced here in Gippsland too, Patrick, a wide range of creatures have been thin on the ground or in the air.

    • Patrick Kavanagh

      I’m hoping that they bounce back when we get some rain and that it’s not part of a long term trend.

  5. What a ripper shot of the Feather Duster bug – could use his services around my place!
    🙂 Congratulations Patrick.

  6. kristinmundaygmailcom

    Brilliant shots! Thank you so much.
    I have been fascinated by these assassin bugs for about 5 years when the S.A. Museum had a photo of one in a large display. David Attenborough shows one assassinating an ant in his Life in the Undergrowth. Brutal as it it, it’s extraordinary in its method of positioning its prey…
    I would love to see one in real life – how did you come across it?

  7. Patrick Kavanagh

    Thanks Kristin, I’ll have to look up that episode. I found it on one of my routine evening prowls for invertebrates at our place.

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