Dinnertime 2

24 July 2007


Because, I suppose, of my photography people have developed a picture of me as an expert entomophile. I often get queries and anecdotes on the order of, ‘I found this beetle in my sink, yesterday, it was black with red spots…’

In fact, short of a lecture or two in an invertebrate biology class way back at the turn of the century, I have very little formal education in the ways of terrestrial arthropods.

Of course, you can learn far more about arthropods simply by watching them, than you can from a thousand lectures. Unfortunately, I must admit that I didn’t really pay much attention until relatively recently.And then, I moved to a neighborhood with a diverse landscape of ornamental and food crops. I began helping out in the garden, half-assedly. I started nicking my girlfriend’s camera for little photo safaris.

I began guiding school-children on urban and suburban nature explorations. The most accessible and, I soon found, rewarding quarry was invariably insects, and other arthropods.

I bought a few books.

And still, I really don’t know crap about bugs. When I snapped this picture of a Green Lynx Spider (Peucetia viridans) munching on a Honeybee (Apis mellifera) a few days ago, I guessed that the very tiny fly perched on the bee’s head was perhaps a wayward fruit fly gleaning pollen from the spider’s quarry.

Today, by happy coincidence, I learned the true identity of this kleptoparasite. Thanks to Bev at the Burning Silo, I now know it to be a fly in the family Milichiidae quite possibly Desmometopa or something like it. The adult females from this group of flies are well-known attendants to predatory arthropods, especially those feeding on stink bugs (as in Bev’s photo) and honeybees (as above).

I still don’t know crap about bugs, but I’m learning!

n.b. – apologies to those who had to read this piecemeal, I’m learning not to use the Flickr ‘blog this’ feature.

5 Responses to “Dinnertime 2”

  1. laelaps Says:

    Great picture! Some of my most favorite pictures I took in and around a singly butterfly bush last summer; I don’t know what many of the insects actually are, but insects and arachnids (like many other things) are on my list being that I probably should be more familiar with them. If you haven’t checked it out already, Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth documentary is absolutely wonderful.

  2. Neil Says:

    Thanks Brian. A tremendous series, perhaps my favorite Attenborough…especially the mating slugs.

  3. bev Says:

    Great shot of the Lynx spider, bee and fly! I enjoyed your post too. That’s pretty much the same evolution as my own interest in insects.

  4. Nick Says:

    Hi my name is Nick and I found a Lynx spider in my house. I took pictures then my mother killed it. I logged onto my computer and the are harmless to humans. they are used for agricultural predators who destroy insects who destroy crops. I would like some more info on this spider. Feel free to ask me for some pictures of it.

  5. Nick Says:

    P.S. I live in El Monte, California. Are these spiders common here????????????????????

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