Readers’ wildlife photos (and video)

Reader Rick Longworth sent a hummingbird video from Idaho. His notes are indented:

I’ve been watching my local hummingbird community since I arrived in Idaho in April.  So far I’ve identified black chinned (Archilochus alexandri) and rufous hummingbirds(Selasphorus rufus).  I was lucky to capture three types of feeding behavior shown in the attached film.

1. In addition to flower nectar, hummingbirds eat lots of tiny bugs.  They are usually ambush predators, waiting on their favorite perch for insects of the right size to fly by.  The clip shows a female rufous hummingbird detecting and attacking a moth overhead.  The clip is shown in normal speed and then slowed down.

2. Another approach to gathering protein is to be fortunate enough to land next to a tasty morsel as seen in the second clip, also shown twice.  It’s another female rufous.

3. Finally, a black chinned female demonstrates the familiar method of sipping nectar.  A hummingbird visits about 2000 blossoms a day to get enough glucose.

Tony Eales from Australia sent some arthropods; check out the first two photos of the whip spider!:

A few more arthropods from around south east Queensland Australia

One of my favourite spiders, the Whip Spider (Ariames colubrinus). These are predators on other spiders and I think their extraordinary shape allows for camouflage against their dangerous prey.

Next is an exciting find for me, something I’d been hoping to observe for a while, a parasitic Drynid Wasp larvae attached to a Flatid Planthopper nymph. Wikipedia describes the life cycle:

“The female dryinid injects an egg into the host insect with her ovipositor. Females may also have front legs modified with a pinching apparatus which they use to restrain the hosts for their larvae during oviposition. The larvae are legless or have only vestigial legs. The larva feeds on the internal structures of the host, and as it grows larger it begins to protrude from the body. It develops a hardened sac (called a “thylacium”) around its body for protection. The host is eventually killed and the larva leaves the dead body and spins a cocoon.”

Next are three small predatory flies.

Coenosia sp. Sometimes known as Killer Flies, these are small flies in the House Fly family Muscidae. I find these amazing because they don’t seem to have any physical specialisation for their predatory lifestyle. The one in the photo has a minute little fly in its grasp that you can just make out.

Hybos sp. is another very small fly that catches prey on the wing. It’s in the Dance Fly family Hybotinae. These show some pretty good adaptation for its predatory lifestyle with large rear legs that superficially resemble the grasping arms of mantids.

Octhera sp. These are predators on mosquito larvae as maggots and flying mosquitos as adults. They’re a predatory branch of the Shore Fly family Ephydridae. I found this one among the mangroves.

And I present once again a photograph of the beautiful mallard drake (Anas platyrhynchos) named James Pond:


  1. Roger
    Posted September 3, 2018 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    We know he’s James Pond but which actor is playing him though.

  2. Christopher
    Posted September 3, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Whip spiders look like they’re trying to become stuck insects. Fascinating.
    The flies remind me how little I know or notice buzzing through my garden and field or right past my own nose. Wonderful photos, thanks for sharing and reminding me to stop and see what’s buzzing by me.

  3. Posted September 3, 2018 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Fascinating fly diversity!

  4. rickflick
    Posted September 3, 2018 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Here’s a link to a fascinating exploration of hummingbirds. PBS Nature.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted September 3, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff! I did not know about whip spiders. Very weird, as are the other critters shown here.

  6. Mark R.
    Posted September 3, 2018 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    You know, I had no idea hummers ate insects; I thought they were strict nectarivores. Well, that’s why I love WEIT…learning new facts all the time.

    Great arthropod shots…especially liked the whip spider.

  7. Mark R.
    Posted September 3, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen such bright colors on a mallard drake. James Pond deserves his name…he surely is a ladies’ duck.

  8. Diane G
    Posted September 4, 2018 at 2:38 am | Permalink

    Wow, great captures of hummingbird predation, Rick! Filming a hummer doing anything is difficult–how skilled of you to have observed and recorded this behavior.

    Fascinating fly, spider, & parasitic wasp pics and info, Tony. I’ve seen or at least seen pics of lots of strange spiders, but that whip spider really takes the cake.

    James is one handsome drake!

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