The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Forgotten Photo Friday: death of a butterfly

This photo, while neither compositionally nor technically lovely, captured one of the more dramatic insect-insect interactions I’ve ever encountered:

Polistes sp. with Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

A large wasp (Polistes sp.) was dangling by the slender tarsal claws of its two hind legs, clutching a frantic and struggling newly-eclosed Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).  Its wings still soft, wrinkled and useless, the butterfly could do little to ward off or flee from its attacker. It valiantly tried nonetheless, twisting its body and kicking as the wasp hung on with great determination.

After several minutes, the weight and motion of they prey caused the wasp to lose its grip on the blade of grass, and both tumbled to the ground, still in their deadly embrace.  I left the scene then, feeling fairly certain of the butterfly’s fate…

(Photo taken at the Shaw Nature Reserve in Missouri).

4 responses to “Forgotten Photo Friday: death of a butterfly

  1. Adrian D. Thysse February 24, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Surprised you forgot about this one (and surprised that it is categorized as ‘Just for fun’!).! A lot of us are in the insect ‘porn’ business, insects in pristine condition beautifully composed. It is good to see nature the way it is, especially with pop-species like the monarch.

    Coming soon…, ‘Tiger attacks Panda!’

    • TGIQ February 24, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      I’m not surprised I forgot. I have an attention span of about five seco – oh, something shiny! – what were we talking about? 😉
      It was exciting to watch, and I was sort of cheering on the wasp, even though I felt bad for the butterfly (a wasp’s gotta eat too, right?) I was happy to catch this not-so-lovely moment in the butterfly’s (short) life – it’s a nice change from butterfly-on-a-flower, no?

  2. Ted C. MacRae February 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Probably the same species of wasp that made a meal out of one of the periodical cicadas that swarmed Shaw Nature Preserve earlier in the season: Predator Satiation.

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