The violet black-legged robber fly (Dioctria atricapilla)
Empusa pennata // Conehead Mantis
Southwestern Ironclad Beetle (Zopherus nodulosus haldemani)
(by HowardCheekPhotography.com on Flickr)
Southwestern Ironclad Beetles (Zopherus nodulosus haldemani)
(by Abbott Nature Photography on Flickr)
Those are pretty!
Female green dock leaf beetles (Gastrophysa viridula) are capable of carrying over 1,000 eggs at any one time, which they lay in clusters of 20-45.
This particular specimen’s abdomen is so full of eggs that her elytra (hardened forewings) are unable to completely protect her.
entomolog: Arolium, Empodium, Pulvilli
The tarsus of insects usually consists of several small joints, the last of which generally carries a pair of terminal claws. The last tarsal segment may be extended between the claws to form a pad-like organ - the arolium. Some Diptera (true flies) have two additional pads - the pulvilli (singular: pulvillus) - lying below the claws on either side of the arolium , although in most flies, including the common housefly and its relatives, the arolium is replaced by a stout central bristle - the empodium. In many insects, the other tarsal segments also have ventral pulvillus-like organs, called plantulae. These various structures - the arolium, pulvilli and plantulae - produce a sticky secretion and act like ‘suction-pads’, enabling the insect to climb smooth or steep surfaces. This is the secret of the fly’s ability to walk up-side-down on the ceiling!
Fact Source: http://www.kendalluk.com/morph.htm
Figure: Encyclopedia of Entomology, John L. Capinera , 2008
SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) Photo 1: Foot of a Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) worker. Pretarsal claws and manubrium in red; arolium in yellow; tarsi in green (Scanning Electron Micrograph, Roberto Keller/AMNH)
SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) Photo 2: . The hairy adhesive pads, or pulvilli (beneath the claws), allow the Stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) to cling to smooth surfaces.
SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) Photo 3: The Figeater Beetle’s (Cotinis mutabilis) leg is comprised of a variable number of segments, incliuding the pretarsus, seen here with a claw and spiked empodium.
Hyperparasitism: Parasites that are parasitic to parasites!
The wonderful world of entomology - parasites within parasitoids all over the place! Though parasites are found throughout the natural world, insects have some of the most interesting examples found between (and sometimes within) the families of the order, including many hyperparasites.
At top, you can see the parasitoid (a parasite that generally consumes or intentionally leads to the death of the host - long-term survival within the host is not the goal) burrowing-wasp parasitizing the rhinoceros beetle larva. Once the female burrowing-wasp “smells” out the location of the larva, she burrows down to it and lays an egg on the body. After her egg hatches, it feeds on the larva. When the beetle larva is consumed, the burrowing-wasp pupates, and forms a chrysalis underground. After metamorphosis, it digs its way up and out, and feeds on pollen or nectar while searching for a mate.
But the insect world does not always let one get away with that sort of parasitoid behavior for free! Many members of the Hymenoptera, including the burrowing-wasps, are in turn parasitized by Strepsiptera, formerly known as the “twisted-winged parasites”. This parasitism of parasites (or parasitoids) is known as hyperparasitism, and is mostly found in entomophagous (insect-eating) insects.
As larva, Strepsiptera are free-roaming insects, looking for a host. Once the appropriate host is found, the larvae will enter the insect (using various mechanisms) and take up residence in its abdomen, as can be seen in the image on the bottom-right. Both sexes go through the last instars (moults) of their larval stage within the host. After this stage, there is a vast difference between the females and the males - the males pupate, go through a complete metamorphosis, and emerge from the host as adults (of course, killing the host in the process). The females become neotenous adults (adults capable of reproduction, but with juvenile forms - axolotls are another example), and stay within the host for their entire life. The male mates with them while they’re within the host, and their eggs hatch inside their bodies.
Fun fact: When the Strepsiptera larvae emerge from the host, the brood canal they come out of is generally at the top of the abdomen, just below the head, so the host ends up having babies coming out of its “neck”. This doesn’t kill them, and some hosts end up sustaining three or more broods of its parasite. Cool stuff!
Top: Burrowing-wasp parasitizing rhinoceros beetle. Marvels of Insect Life. Edward Step, 1916.
Bottom Right: Adult male Strepsipteran (Stylos dalii), free of host. British Entomology. John Curtis, 1823-1840.
Bottom Left: Adult female Strepsipteran and adult female Strepsipteran within host. Applied Entomology. H.T. Fernald, 1921.