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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Total Annihilation

The egg clutch below belongs to stink bugs. I found this out by doing some research online. I even found some great photos of stinkbug hatchlings. They are the cutest little things. You can see some at the following link Stink Bug Hatchlings

If you scroll to the second and third photo you will notice the bug on the egg clutch looks nothing like a stink bug or stink bug hatchling. In fact, like me, you may think what a cute tiny bee. You'd be getting closer. I had to do a whole lot of research to figure out why my egg clutch appeared to be hatching bees. (I didn't think bees came from eggs per se - not ones sitting on a screen door anyway.) My first hypothesis was I had a predator who was eating the nymphs as soon as they hatched. Warm, but not hot. The mystery was still unsolved.

Then it hit me why not search for stink bug predators. I didn't have a cute bee. I had a cute wasp. In specific, Trissolcus sp. wasp. Some of these tiny stingless wasps have been introduced on purpose and some appear to be native to the southern US. I wasn't looking at predation, but rather a form of parasitism. These little wasps lay their eggs inside the stink bug eggs and then their larvae hatch first and eat the stink bug larvae. Not really a pleasant thought unless you are fruit growers looking for something to control pests. Then it's a pretty nifty solution. The benefits of Trissolcus wasps.

I'm not sure how I feel about this because from my point of view I was robbed of cute stink bug nymphs. Which, if they were going to eat all my trees, then I guess I would be a bit relieved and thankful for the event. However, if they were going to eat other pests, I'm sad. (Most stink bugs are plant pests, but some are very good at hunting other insect pests.) Not which to mention, this was a total annihilation. There were about six egg clutches on our screen door to the porch. There were two more by our front door. Not one egg out of 112 hatched a stink bug that I can tell. Maybe it's wrong, but that makes me a bit sad.

It's hard to say how it would have played out. And perhaps if things had been different, and my trees or lilacs had been completely mowed down, I'd have wanted a visit from predators. It beats pesticide any day.

I do try to see the silver lining. In this case, I have a cool story to tell. And I have another "nest" for my nests of stinging insects collection. (Although I guess technically this species doesn't sting. But it's still a wasp!)