A face only a mother could love (2)…

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There’s a small, wingless parasitic wasp (Methoca ichneumonides) that preys on a green-tiger larva by waiting for it to attack before dodging past the fearsome mandibles and slipping into the larva’s burrow. The beetle larva is now the victim and the wasp closes the deal by injecting paralysing venom into its prey’s soft, unprotected body. With an incredible feat of strength and persistence, the wasp drags the limp, albeit living tiger beetle larva to the bottom of its burrow where she lays a single egg on it. She then scoots off, seals the burrow and goes about looking for more tiger beetle larva to punish.

The green-tiger beetle’s nemesis – the parasitic wasp , Methoca ichneumonoides (http://delta-intkey.com/britin/images/bent3291.jpg)

Here’s a clip taken from the Life in the Undergrowth showing green tiger beetle larvae catching prey in their characteristic way and a female¬† M. ichneumonides taking on one of these beastly, ambush predators.

If the beetle larva manages to avoid the attentions of this wasp and other predators then it will reach the point in its life where it can pupate in preparation for its brief time above ground as an adult. Like any other insect that goes through metamorphosis, the contrast between the larva and the adult tiger beetle is amazing. The adult, with it iridescent exoskeleton and bulging eyes is also a predator of small insects, like ants, but it is an active hunter that pursues its prey over the ground with bursts of six-legged sprinting and short, fast flights, eventually getting hold of its victim and dispatching them with its fearsome mandibles.

Cicindela campestris adult
The green tiger beetle adult is quite a sight close up, what with its metallic, iridescent exoskeleton and manic behaviour – Winterton Dunes, Norfolk (Ross Piper)
Cicindela campestris adult
The cruel mandibles of a green tiger beetle trying to find purchase on a finger – Winterton Dunes, Norfolk (Ross Piper)

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