Loxophlebia nomia (Arctiidae - Ctenuchini) is a species of neotropical moth belonging to a group commonly referred to as tiger moths or wasp moths.
Members of the tribes Ctenuchini (like Loxophlebia nomia), and Euchromiini exhibit extreme morphologies including the evolution of convincing wasp mimicry. The lepidopteran abdomen is constricted to produce the visual effect of a hymenopteran petiole (petiole mimic). Many of these species also possess an abdominal “ventral valve” that has been ascribed both a defensive and a courtship function.
Poking around a dead tree turned up a dozen Black and Yellow Paper Wasps, Polistes dominulus, possibly sheltering under the bark from the cold night previously (and a large skink huddled with them, oddly, although he fled).
Another possibility was that they’ve been stylopised - infected with a strepsipteran parasite, in this case Xenos vesparum - who has forced them all to gather where the parasites can then meet and breed. See this recent article on the discovery
I’ve been recently fascinated with the diversity of tiny insect life that has been thriving in my garden.
Firstly is the bees, super helpful garden pollinators, I noticed at least four different Hymenopterans in my garden, including a fascinating wasp that I never managed to capture a picture of. And they loved the hyssop, there were more than twenty bees buzzing around.
There’s also a wide assortment of beetles (Coleoptera) and true bugs (Hemiptera) crawling around, including those damned Japanese Beetles.
Including, what I think is Assassin bug nymphs (?) crawling over my spent snapdragons
Also caught some Cabbage Moths (Lepidoptera) in the act. As well as some other fun winged friends.
And last but not least, my favorite little Homopterans (leaf hoppers!)
Overall, some bugs are bad, some are beneficial and all fulfill a role within your garden ecosystem. A greater diversity of insects is a sign that your garden is thriving. Now if only I could find some more mantids.
Commonly known as cuckoo wasps or emerald wasps, the hymenopteran family Chrysididae is a very large cosmopolitan group (over 3000 described species) of parasitoid or kleptoparasitic wasps.They have the tendency to curl into a defensive ball when attacked by a potential host. Photos by Gerald Yuvallos and Martin Heigan.
I reckon, that in our own minds, most of us have a pretty standard image of a wasp - certainly winged, moderately large (>10mm), and possibly so cliched as to be yellow and brown/black with stripes. We may not know that wasps, bees and ants all belong to the same group (order) of insects (Hymenoptera). Ants are just one of the many hymenopteran families (the Formicidae), and what we call bees belong to a number of different families in the superfamily Apoidea.
Like worker ants, the wasps in this image are all flightless; most don’t have any wings, and the others here have vestigial (remnant) wings that are certainly not flight-functional. For some of those pictured it will only be the female that can’t fly - how fair is that?
These gorgeous specimens all come from a leaf litter sample from the Grampians Range in western Victoria, Australia. The sample was collected byDeakin School of Life and Environmental Sciences Honours (4th year research) student Lauren Drysdale who is exploring insect diversity in the region using leaf litter sampling and pitfall trapping. These taxa are all likely parasites of other arthropods.
As an example, the tiny little (0.65 mm long), and I must say incredibly cute, scelionid wasp at the top left is a species of the tribe Baeini which includes, in Australia, species in a number of genera including Baeus and Microbaeoides. Scelionids are parasites of arthropod eggs and the Baeini, uniquely in the family, specialise on spider eggs. The smallness of these wasps - among the world’s smallest - is related to this strategy. If you are to grow up inside and hatch out of a spider egg, you can’t be very big.
Aren’t you glad there aren’t wasps that parasitise you?
See more sawfly larvae images in my Flickr photostream HERE.
Sawfly is the common name for insects belonging to suborder Symphyta of the order Hymenoptera (wasps, hornets, bees and ants). Adult sawflies are wasp-like in appearance but are distinguishable from most other Hymenoptera by the broad connection between the abdomen and the thorax, and by their caterpillar-like larvae. The common name comes from the saw-like appearance of the ovipositor, which the females use to cut into the plants where they lay their eggs. Large populations of certain sawfly species can cause substantial economic damage to forests and cultivated plants.
Sawfly larvae look like caterpillars (the larvae of moths and butterflies), with two notable exceptions; (1) they have six or more pairs of prolegs on the abdomen (caterpillars have five or fewer), and (2) they have two stemmata (simple eyes) instead of a caterpillar’s six.
This “ant” grooming itself caught my attention and, at first, I convinced myself it was actually an ant-mimicking mantis nymph. Only on editing the image, did the slim waist, forelegs and antennae not seem right, even for the most bizarre mantis.
So, I introduce to you a Female Parasitoid Wasp (Dryinidae, Hymenoptera).
The Dryinidae are a family of hymenopteran insects, with about 1,400 described species found worldwide. These are solitary wasps whose larvae are parasitoids on other insects. The only known hosts are Hemiptera, especially leafhoppers.
Adults of these insects are generally fairly small, to a maximum length of 10 mm. Males are usually fully winged, but females are often completely wingless and closely resemble ants.
The eggs are injected into the host using a sharp ovipositor and the larva spends its early stages feeding internally on the host, but when larger, it starts to protrude from the abdomen of the host and develops a hardened sac-like “case” to protect its vulnerable body while continuing to feed on the host, which is eventually killed.
In hindsight, they are instantly recognisable by the chelate (claw-like) front legs: they have a pretarsal ungue interacting with a large projection on the fifth tarsomere. This is used to grab the host when ovipositing. This is also what I initially assumed to be a mantis foreleg.
Provespa is a lesser known genus of Vespidae, made up of a group of nocturnal wasps from Southeast Asia.
True to their name, they congregate in large numbers at the MV night lamp. Many of them take advantage of the smorgasbord of delights on offer and dismember moths at will (I have to watch for approaching bandits when trying to photograph a moth subject I like). When not marauding, they usually end up forming tight intimate clumps around the sheet. There is a lot of mutual ‘grooming’ and tactile communication that goes on….