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A Mediterranean orchid that is pollinated exclusively by a single species of wasp

Ophrys speculum is an easy to recognize orchid, owing to its vivid blue, glossy, enamel-like lip, which is fringed with long, red-brown hairs. It is as if the flower reflects the sky of the Mediterranean, where this striking orchid is found; ‘speculum’ means mirror in Latin.

Commonly named as Mirror orchid, Mirror bee orchid, and Looking-glass orchid, Ophrys speculum is widespread in the Mediterranean, from Portugal and Spain in the west to Turkey and Lebanon in the east and also in North Africa. However, it is absent from Cyprus and much of Italy, and is rare in France and Crete.

This species is pollinated exclusively by the wasp Dasyscolia ciliata. Males are lured by the flower, which resembles the female wasp. The flower and wasp are both hairy and the blue patch on the lip appears to mimic the reflection of the sky on the wasp’s wings. Moreover, the floral scent resembles the mating pheromones of the female wasps, and males become highly excited and try to copulate with the flowers, pollinating them in the process.

[Source]

Top photo: Ophrys speculum from Spain by ©Miguel Olivera 

Bottom photo: Pseudocopulation between Dasyscolia ciliata and Ophrys speculum by ©Carlos Enrique Hermosilla

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Family Mutillidae

(velvet ants)

velvet ants or cow killers despite their name are not ants and actually are a family of wasps. They probably get the name ant due to their lack of wings (males have wings but look completely different) and appearance (even though ants and wasps are related), they get the name velvet from their dense and bright colored hair. They are also known for their extremely painful stings which is where the name cow killer comes from. although they usually feed on nectar after a female mates with a male she will infiltrate another insect nest and lay here eggs there, the young will develop as ectoparasites and kill their hosts after a matter of time. Velvet ants can be found worldwide but are most common in North America and parts of Central america.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Arthropoda-Insecta-Hymenoptera-Apocrita-Vespoidea-Mutillidae

Source,Source

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Just a bunch of various insects that I have in my room. 

Dasymutilla gloriosa that I took under a microscope. 
Polistes dominulatwo females on my finger.
Plectrodera scalatorspecimen from Texas
Manduca sexta and it’s life stages. 
Zophobas moriosuperworms that are sold as feeders at pet stores. Adult beetles.

@ PaperWaspNest, yes both Polistes dominula on my finger are VERY much ALIVE! :D  

Mutillidæor Velvet Ants are a family of wasps whose wingless females are covered in brightly-coloured fur to warn potential predators of their extremely painful sting, said to be strong enough to fell a cow, leading to them also being called Cow Killers or Cow Ants. Contrary to their names, they are not ants, but merely resemble them.

The Vespoidea - Wasps & Hornets

I’ll offer merely an extract from Fauna Britannica for this post - worth reading though!

'Wasps must be the most misunderstood and unjustifiably maligned of common British insects. They can be undeniably troublesome in late summer, when the workers have finished looking after the young and are attracted by ripening fruit - and are pursued with rolled-up newspapers in consequence. This is understandable but they should not be destroyed unless their nests are very close to habitations where they might come in contact with very young or very old people, or people who are allergic to their stings. It is not generally realised that, whereas bees feed their young on pollen and nectar, wasps feed their young on animal matter, including a great many insect pests. As a result, their role as biological control agents is largely unappreciated. One family of wasps has a more dubious benefit, however, in feeding solely on other valuable creatures; they are known, with good reason, as the spider-hunting wasps (Family Pompiidae).'

Basically how I feel when people draw insects with humanoid features….too humanoid, e.g. hands, feet, nose, stupid, grin, or just simply too simplistic and lame. Ok. I get it. Insects have a more complex morphology but that doesn’t mean you can’t draw them accurately (or close to) and give them expressions. I like to keep my insect characters cartoony but not so ridiculous that it takes away from what they are supposed to look like.

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