Sunday, 20 August 2017

Perils of Being a Pollinator

While out for a walk a couple weeks ago, I found a patch of Joe Pye Weed that seemed to be popular with the pollinators.  It looked to be an easily accessible and abundant nectar source and I assumed that this Red-Spotted Purple was taking advantage of that.

However when it didn't move I moved in for a closer look and found it's antennae and proboscis tightly in the clutch of an odd looking bug.

And there wasn't just one, upon closer examination I found several more, carefully tucked in and waiting for an unsuspecting meal.

Nearby this Cabbage White had met its end in the same manner.
They are Ambush Bugs, a species I had heard of before but had never seen them.  I did some research and discovered that their preferred method of hunting is lurking in among flowers and attacking unsuspecting prey.  They do help control various insect pests, but are not so appreciated when they prey on pollinators.  Beekeepers in particular, sometimes consider them to be a pest.

I went back a few days later and found several still present.  This one had snagged a more manageable sized meal.
Despite the fact that they can sometimes be considered a pest, it was interesting to observe a new insect species.

I found this monarch caterpillar on the way out.

It's been a good year for monarch caterpillars around here.  In two evenings of searching, I managed to find nearly 70 eggs on milkweed in the yard.

Found this tattered Giant Swallowtail a few days later.

Sourced From:  Proctor Foster, Leslie. Garden Bugs of Ontario. Lone Pine Publishing, 2008


  1. I have seen this happen with hairstreaks. One would think the insect was alive, but upon closer inspection, it was dead!

    1. It really is an interesting occurrence to see.

  2. The insect world is pretty vicious, isn't it. I was watching an Ambush Bug in my Echinacea for more than a week as it caught and devoured bee type pollinators, and came across an Assassin Bug in another patch of flowers a bit later. Pollinators have a lot more to fear than just pesticides!

    1. It really is a fascinating, yet harsh world in which to be a bug. Your recent post on life and death in the backyard was actually fresh in my mind when I found these guys. Really interesting to finally see what I had heard so much about.

    2. Sometimes I'm really surprised that so many pollinators like the butterflies even live long enough to make it to adulthood with all the predators and other threats out there.