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Drama In The Goldenrod Patch

At this time of year when most flowers have gone by, Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) is a primary source of pollen and nectar for bees, beetles, butterflies, flies and many other insects. Consequently, goldenrod flowers are a popular place for insect-eating predators to linger.

Recently I spied an Ambush Bug that had captured a fly and had its proboscis inserted into it, contentedly sucking away the fly’s innards while I photographed it.  Unbeknownst to me or the Ambush Bug, another predator, a Bald-faced Hornet, had spied the bug with its prey. Although adult hornets consume liquids, usually sugars like the juice of fruits or nectar, their larvae are raised on a diet of insects, so adults are constantly looking for prey. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the hornet flew in, tussled with the Ambush Bug and flew off with the fly in its mandibles, landing on a nearby branch with the object of its thievery.

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11 responses

  1. What an awesome scene to witness! We just started seeing jagged ambush bugs in our pollinator garden this year. They really are one of our coolest looking insects. Nice pic!

    September 16, 2019 at 10:41 am

  2. Mary S Holland

    Wow! How totally cool. (BTW: Sadly, I’m no relation to our wonderful naturalist!)

    September 16, 2019 at 10:54 am

  3. It’s a wasp-eat-bug world out there!

    September 16, 2019 at 11:14 am

  4. Pat Nelson

    That is quite a dramatic story, so I looked up assassin bug to learn more and came to this page: — but I don’t see anything that looks like this in your photos (tho I have trouble making out the image at top right). Is it that thing in the center that looks much smaller than the fly?

    September 16, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    • Pat, thank you for keeping me honest! I meant to write AMBUSH BUG, not assassin bug!!! ( Phymatinae)

      September 17, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      • Pat Nelson

        Thanks for the update, Mary. I just looked up Ambush Bug and the top search result was a cartoon character! But I kept scrolling down and eventually found it. I don’t think I ever knew about either of these bugs.

        September 17, 2019 at 12:29 pm

  5. David Goldstein

    What a (possibly) great coincidence! Yesterday I took my homeschooled daughters to Smiling Hill Farms in Westbrook, Maine. On the ground next to one of the animal enclosures, we came across this scene of apparent struggle:

    We had no idea what these were, what they were doing. Then, this morning, I received today’s installment of Naturally Curious which appears to answer our question. So…does it answer our question. What are we looking at in these two videos?

    September 17, 2019 at 11:17 am

    • I believe you’ve videotaped two bumble bees mating!

      September 17, 2019 at 1:22 pm

      • David Goldstein

        Isn’t the queen the only one who mates? Does that mean I am miseducated….or that one of those is a queen‽

        ;- David

        September 17, 2019 at 2:14 pm

  6. Yes, I believe the larger bee is a young, fertilized queen!

    September 17, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    • David Goldstein

      Cool! Thanks for this, and everything else. You rock!

      September 17, 2019 at 4:48 pm

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