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!)


Barbara said...

Awesome photos!

VM Sehy Photography said...

Thank you Barbara. These wasps are very small. Maybe an eighth of an inch long. I only had a few good photos despite using my tripod. I was pleased with the few that did turn out.

monica devine said...

Well, i find this totally fascinating. A clutch, so weird how it's called an "egg clutch", a clump of hangers-on, a purse of eggs held close to the body...accessorized little stink bugs actually stink?

VM Sehy Photography said...

Thanks Monica. I love your observation about the use of clutch when it applies to eggs. Stink bugs really do stink. My husband's Aunt and her husband have had them in their house by the tons this year. And according to Jack, they smell very bad. I wouldn't know. I've never been sprayed by one or squashed one. Mostly I just see them crawl around on plants. I think they're kind of cool. The other name for them is shield bug and that's pretty much what they look like is a shield.