Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ambush Bugs

Komar.org- Click to Enlarge
When you stop to think about it, our current technology is amazing.  Just ten years ago I would have to go to the books to see a small picture of an ambush bug.  Now I can carry in my pocket a camera capable of 12x zooms, macro photographs and even videos of insects.  A few clicks on the computer (or even smartphone) can bring up detailed pictures and information.

An example of this came across my screen from George Deatz of FOG.  He sent a one line email with a link to komar.org, with incredible pictures of a painted lady butterfly in the grips of an ambush bug of the "Phymata species".  The technology allows mouse-over enlargements of an already extreme closeup and animation of serial pictures.

A quick click of Google took me to Wikipedia where I could confirm that Phymata is the genus and the species isn't determined by the photographer.  On the same screen I see a link to a video of a day in the life of an assassin bug which has fantastic close-up footage 

I wasn't sure about the difference between an ambush bug and an assassin bug such as our wheel bug.  This University of Kentucky site explained this below.
 "Technically, ambush bugs are a type of assassin bug, but there are a few differences. Assassin bugs are usually dark-colored, with combinations of gray, green, and black. Assassin bugs also have long, narrow heads compared to ambush bugs.  Ambush bugs are usually stoutly built and typically have bright colors: yellow, red, or orange. Ambush bugs have thickened front legs which are used to capture prey.   Assassin bugs will also use their front legs to capture prey, but their front legs are not as thickened as those of ambush bugs."
And in 2011, I can put this together with a few clicks to share these incredible resources with you.  What a great time to be a "Naturalist."  Anyone want to buy a 35 mm camera --- cheap?

For more great pictures from Komar.org, check out his hummingbird nest series.

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