Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sometimes a Bug is Really a Bug

Not long ago, I posted this picture of a bug.  I've been excited that I can get pretty good macro shots with my pocket sized Canon.  So, when I discovered the book Insects of south-central Alaska  by Dominique M. Collet, I went to Title Wave and bought it.  

I looked under beetles first, but then found it under 'true bugs.'   A birch shield bug.

Then last week at the botanical garden I caught this shot of a bumble bee (page 169). 

Then Sunday I found this fly. 

Click to enlarge

Using Collet's book, I decided it might be a tachinid fly.  Google got me to cirrusimage which gave me lens envy, because they had such incredible photos.  It also said there were 8200 different species of tachinid flies.  They all lay their eggs either in, on, or near the larvae of other insects.  The young then act as parasites on their hosts.  These are actually beneficial.

"Many tachinids parasitize major agricultural pests of food or timber crops, and have potential for use as biological control agents, but most attempts at using them in such wise have been dismal failures.

Among the methods tachinids use to infect their subjects are the oviparous species that place large, macrotype eggs directly on the body of the host, the micro-oviparous, which place tiny, microtype eggs on foliage or other foodstuffs being consumed by the host, or the larviparous, which retain their eggs until maturity; these eggs hatch immediately upon being laid on or near the target. Some female tachinidae that attack bugs or beetles have piercing ovipositors much like wasps in the Hymenoptera family Ichneumonidae."

I recommend checking out cirrusimage because those photos are incredible!

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