Tiny (phoretic?) wasp on butterfly antenna

3 posts / 0 new
Last post
Ed Phillips
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
Joined: 13/05/2012 - 08:41
Tiny (phoretic?) wasp on butterfly antenna
AttachmentSize
Image icon Wasp on Antenna559.59 KB

I took lots of photographs of this particular Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly in our Staffordshire garden. Checking the images on my computer, I noticed that a couple of the shots showed a minuscule wasp on the tip of the butterfly's antenna. I've attached a composite image showing the butterfly and the wasp (inset). It's almost definitely a wasp and I was wondering whether I had accidently recorded one of the phoretic species that are egg parasitoids. Is this likely?

Ian Cross
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 8 months ago
Joined: 13/05/2012 - 19:48
Phoretic wasp

Hi Ed

Excellent photo with great definition - what system do you use? You may be on to something here. It certainly looks like a braconid to me but perhaps one of the parasitic wasp experts out there can help? There's a lot of information on how these wasps exploit the "anti-aphrodisiac" hormones (male butterflies use these to stop other males mating with "their" female) to find recently mated female butterflies. These, by definition, are soon to be in the business of egg-laying - just what the wasp is looking for. Presumably a phoretic wasp wouldn't travel on the antennal tip. Has this wasp just alighted here by co-incidence or do they habitually hop onto the antennae as convenient look-out posts whenever the butterfly pauses? What a fascinating possibility.

Ian

Ed Phillips
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
Joined: 13/05/2012 - 08:41
Camera set-up

Hi Ian; thanks for the response. I was using a DSLR (Canon 5D III) with a Tamron 90mm Macro lens for those shots. I'd taken off the Canon MP-E 65mm (which is the lens usually on the camera), which I typically use with diffused twin-lite flash. No flash on the butterfly shots though. 

 

Yes, fascinating behaviour of the wasp. I had read about them exploiting anti-aphrodisiac hormones but couldn't decide whether I was just witnessing a chance encounter!

 

Ed ...

Log in or register to post comments