Sneak Attack! (Goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia)
August 7, 2011
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Our gardens provide an excellent close-by space for bug hunting. Most days I do a “tour of the grounds”, inspecting flowers and leaves for interesting critters. So the other day I was poking around a patch of purple coneflowers, when I saw this:
A bee head...upsidedown?
A little bit of bee peeking out from behind the pink petals. Something was all wrong, though. First, it wasn’t moving, and secondly, it was peeking out head-first. Very odd. Crouching down to get a better look beneath, the problem quickly became apparent:
Goldenrod crab spider with prey
A well-hidden goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia: Thomisidae) had snatched up the unsuspecting foraging bee and was now enjoying a well-deserved snack.
As I photographed the scene, I noticed a pair of very small flies circling nearby. They occasionally landed on the bee.
I’m really not sure (little help, fly guy or other fly guy?) but I think they’re little Muscids of some kind. If I had to guess, I would say that they were feeding on the pollen grains clinging to the bee’s hairs…I can’t think of what else they’d be doing…does anyone else care to venture a guess? (Ooh, I’d take guesses on the ID of the prey, too!!!)
***Edited to add: read the comments (Dooooooo it. Do it now). Morgan from Biodiversity In Focus (aka “Fly Guy #1) has some great insights here!
***Edited to add #2: Micheal has offered another really interesting suggestion, and a nice pic to boot (in other words, if you haven’t read the comments already, you really should now).