Stop, sit, look is a mantra that serves me well.
I was huddled near the end of a rotting log when I spotted a brightly patterned bug just a few inches away. This was quickly followed by a good-grief-what-the-heck? moment when I realized it was “attached” to a large caterpillar. What followed next was fascinating.
The piercing mouthparts of this immature stink bug had seized hold of one of the caterpillar’s hind “legs” (known as prolegs to bugsters) and it was feeding on the still-living larva.
The caterpillar was strong. It pulled that stink bug several inches across the log face. Despite its best efforts, however, it couldn’t break free.
The stink bug’s grip was stronger. In fact, several times the caterpillar swung loose, dangling in air. The stink bug never lost its hold on the log or the larva.
Although the larva was still alive when I left, the end was inevitable — it was lunch on legs for this young spined soldier bug.
The stink bug’s piercing mouthparts latched on to one of the caterpillar’s hind “legs”.
The caterpillar was strong enough to drag the stink bug across the log face but not strong enough to dislodge the mouthparts.
I spotted the stink bug first and only then realized it was feeding on the caterpillar.
The stink bug will feed well on this caterpillar.
The stink bug’s grip, though slender, was tenacious. Even when the caterpillar swung free in the air, it didn’t dislodge the bug’s grip on either its dinner or the log.
When I first spotted this duo, the caterpillar was clinging to the leaf at the bottom of the log. They travelled quite a distance during this deadly tug-of-war.
The spined soldier bug goes through 5 stages (instars, for the biologically inclined) between egg and adult. Each stage looks quite different than the others. Turns out I found the third instar.
If you’d like to see its life cycle in photos, check out this link at the University of Florida.
Spined soldier bug Podisus maculiventris
Unidentified butterfly larva
I was watering the raspberries when what to my early morning eyes should appear but a … What the heck was that?
An odd shape skittered across the leaves and overside.
I tossed the hose, grabbed my camera and peered closer. Moments later the whatever reappeared topside.
Not one bug but two. Caught in (ahem) “the act”.
I’m not sure who was leading this lovers’ dance but one bug dragged the other hither and thither. Across leaves. Up and over a dandelion. Back to the rasps.
A lover possessed? Bored? Not in the mood?
I left them to their erotic perambulations.
Later, I dug out my books. The striking black and red pattern made them easy to identify.
Twice-stabbed stink bugs. You’re kidding? Really? Someone had a go with that name.
I stuck my head in another book: Wee Harlequin Bugs.
Much better. Yes, they are stink bugs. (A rose by any other name, afterall.) But for me, Wee Harlequin Bugs they shall be.
Wee harlequin bug Cosmopepla bimaculata