The Spider, the Bee, and the Fly

I stopped by Conard Environmental Research Area, a prairie/savannah reconstruction and restoration owned by Grinnell College.  It is a pretty good area to find butterflies, but today was a little too overcast and windy for them.  I still had a good time and took quite  a few photographs.

I saw a honeybee that seemed to be acting funny on a goldenrod flower.  Upon closer inspection I saw that it had been attacked by a goldenrod crab spider.

It seemed like a fairly recent event–I was not sure that the bee was dead yet.  I took a number of photographs, hoping to get a good shot of the head and the eyes of the spider.

Sometimes when you look at your photos you will see things you did not while taking the pictures.  That happened in this case.  When I looked at the pictures I noticed the small fly on the spider.

It is very small–about the size of a fruit fly.  I would guess that it is a phorid fly, but I am not sure on that yet.

So is it feeding on the juices of the corpse?  Does it have some other intention–maybe to lay eggs on what remains of the bee, or to lay eggs on the spider?  I don’t know, but it might be neat to find out.

Maybe someone will over at bugguide will know.

Speaking of bugguide, I had a post about things butterflies were attracted to and referred to a photograph of hackberry emperors on scat.  MJ sent me the link to the photo.

If you look at it, you will have a completely different impression of butterflies.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

View at your own risk.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in Biological diversity, diptera, insects and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Spider, the Bee, and the Fly

  1. Great photos. I don’t think it is a phorid though. It looks more like Chamaemyiidae or Lauxaniidae, but I am not enough of a fly expert to know for sure. It will be interesting to see what the people at bugguide say.


  2. Ray says:

    Really great pictures and story.

  3. theresagreen says:

    Fascinating post, the camouflage of crab spiders is just superb – the fly on her back reminded me of the poem: Big fleas have little fleas, Upon their backs to bite ’em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so, ad infinitum.

  4. theresagreen says:

    It’s me again – I’ve just been reading another of my favourite blogs from Pattaya, Thailand. Ian has taken pics of a crab spider predating a bee there, and his images show small flies on the spider too – (I’ve sent him the link to your pics too )

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