Tuesday, August 19, 2008

To "Bee" or not to "Bee" Part 2: Hymenoptera mimics continued ...

The Great Golden Digger Wasp: a beautiful insect. Despite its size it’s not aggressive and in fact tends to be wary and difficult to approach closely, making it hard to get a good picture. Someday I’ll try to post some more photos of this wasp as the current images don’t do it justice.

The Blue Mud Dauber looks similar to the Steel Blue Cricket Hunter at first glance. The Cricket Hunter can be easily distinguished in the field; it’s a much larger, more robust and active insect.

Sand Wasp … I still haven’t figured out if this is a member of the genus Bembix or Bicyrtes. It’s difficult to pin down (metaphorically speaking) an insect from a photo. A specimen is necessary to study detailed physical attributes, such as wing venation. Based on the wing detail visible I'm leaning toward Bicyrtes. Henceforth a link will be inserted to the Internet resource with the description which best fits the picture at hand.

A lucky shot … I caught this Sand Wasp right at the moment of takeoff.

Sand Loving Wasp

The Tiphiid Wasp bears a strong resemblance to a queen ant ...

This is probably a Mining Bee

Halictid Bee

Wool Carder Bee

Red-Tailed Bumblebee

Moving on to some mimics … a Syrphid Fly

The fly in the next two images is probably a relative of Sphiximorpha sp., and it takes impersonation over the top; this fly even hovers like a wasp and at rest moves its body and flicks its wings in a wasplike manner.

Mimicry is by no means restricted to members of the order Diptera. What I was hoping for at the outset of this photo expedition was a picture of a Mantidfly (family Mantispidae). These insects do an excellent job of imitating a wasp. No luck getting a pic … Mantidflies aren’t all that common in this area.

With its transparent hind wing and yellow abdominal stripe the Peachtree Borer Moth (this one is a female) resembles a wasp at first glance. There are many other moths that make even more convincing hornets or bees.

Several beetle species also do a creditable job of looking like a dinner that might sting. With its brown and yellow pattern the Flower Longhorn Beetle (Typocerus sp.) will hopefully fake out a predator looking for a potential meal.