World around you
BY KELLY BOSTIAN World Outdoors Writer
Sunday, June 24, 2012
6/24/12 at 7:14 AM
Another sample photograph from Oxley Nature Center's Facebook page was just too good to resist sharing this week.
In it, a wheel bug (Arilus cristatus) has captured and is sucking the life from a May Beetle.
Oxley naturalist and amateur photographer Amy Morris wrote that the wheel bug, "is often called an ambush or assassin bug. This is a true bug, of the Order Hemiptera, with beaklike mouthparts adapted for piercing and sucking. As you can see here, a May Beetle (Genus Phyllophaga), has become its prey. The mouthparts, or rostrum, is attached at the front of the head and extends back. It is brought forward to drink the liquified bodily fluid of its prey."
Wheel bugs are not to be trifled with and can bite people, said Eddie Reese, Oxley executive director. "One got me one time and it really hurts," he said. "I was mowing my lawn and mowed around this bush and it must have been on a leaf and it got me on the arm. It hurt. It reminded me of a wasp sting."
Reese said the bite didn't swell as would a bee or wasp sting, "but everyone is different," he said.
Reese said the center is making a push to regularly post fresh photographs on its Facebook page as a means of boosting interest and getting people engaged with the nature center. It doesn't hurt to have a talented photographer like Morris on staff, either, he said.
"She's a professional naturalist and amateur photographer but she's pretty at taking pictures," he said.
"We're trying to grow the Facebook page and get people to share. A lot of people don't realize what's out here and most that see it are amazed that we have a lot of these things right here in our backyard, right in the city limits, that's why we're doing it," he said.
A wheel bug dines on a May Beetle at Oxley Nature Center. AMY MORRIS/Courtesy