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Gruesome Tactics of an Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug

This post highlights the gruesome, yet ingenious tactics of the Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) which I shot again on Friday night. This assassin bug sticks the corpses of it's devoured prey (ants!) onto it's back for camouflage and to hide it's scent from other ants. On top of being an obvious "meat shield", this also allows the assassin bug to infiltrate ant colonies while posing as one of their own. I have yet to photograph this bug attaching a corpse to it's back, so it's going to be high on my wish list!

    Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) - DSC_0750
  1. Like a scene straight out from the recent Hannibal TV series (Episode 9: TROU NORMAND), this Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) accumulates a gigantic stack of corpses on it's back. It's a wonder how it managed to maintain balance!

  2. Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) - DSC_0739
  3. This Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) could walk about steadily despite the additional load.

  4. Ant-snatching Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) - DSC_6787
  5. Another serial killer which I shot some time ago, had a slightly lower kill rate.

  6. Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) - IMG_5751
  7. Even the tiny, younger Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) had a stack of it's own!

  8. Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) - DSC_2042b
  9. View from above shows that almost the entire body of the Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) had been covered by ant carcasses!

  10. Ant-Snatching Assassin Bug (Acanthaspis sp.) - DSC_1831
  11. Despite finding these quite frequently, I couldn't pass up shooting them each time.



  12. Shooting this assassin bug took just about 10 minutes, so here are more finds from the night!!

    Comb-Footed Spider (Theridiidae) - DSC_0630
  13. Comb-Footed Spider (Theridiidae), usually weaves silk cross-crossing over a leaf.

  14. Comb-Footed Spider (Theridiidae) - DSC_0641
  15. Wider view to show the web - yes it is almost always hanging upside down.

  16. Comb-Footed Spider (Theridiidae) - DSC_0633
  17. A male Comb-Footed Spider (Theridiidae), notice the enlarged palps, all ready to mate!

  18. Comb-Footed Spider (Theridiidae) - DSC_0635
  19. Dorsal view of the Comb-Footed Spider (Theridiidae), always important for records.

  20. Centipede (Chilopoda) - DSC_0637
  21. We found a few young Centipedes (Chilopoda) on the tree trunks

  22. Centipede (Chilopoda) - DSC_0640
  23. The body had hints of green

  24. Issid Planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.) - DSC_0642
  25. Issid Planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.), ridiculously cute seed-like bug! Alex Wild jokingly called it Adorabilidae when I posted pictures of it on Facebook recently.

  26. Issid Planthopper (Hemisphaerius sp.) - DSC_0649
  27. Did I mention that it is that adorable?

  28. Ground Spider (Zodariidae) - DSC_0650
  29. Ground Spider (Zodariidae), but not on the ground but resting on a tree trunk

  30. Katydid (Tettigoniidae) - DSC_0655
  31. Interesting looking Katydid (Tettigoniidae) but it was too big to fit into my camera setup, hence the cropped legs.

  32. Caged Pupa - DSC_0661
  33. Melvyn found this caged chrysalis. The caterpillar was probably a spiky one, and had used it's spikes to build this protective cage while it is in this vulnerable and critical stage of it's life.

  34. Caged Pupa - DSC_0663
  35. View from the side, such a beautiful chrysalis!

  36. Caged Pupa - DSC_0665
  37. The outer membrane was already transparent and we could see the antennae of the moth. (or butterfly?)

  38. Orb Web Spider (Araneidae) - DSC_0666
  39. There were a number of these Orb Web Spiders (Araneidae) which rested on dead leaves dangling on their webs.

  40. Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae) - DSC_0675
  41. Found a Lichen Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae) running about on a leaf.

  42. Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae) - DSC_0676
  43. This Lichen Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae) is a juvenile, measuring only 20mm with legs out-stretched

  44. Tiger Beetles (Cicindelinae) - DSC_0685
  45. One of the benefits of shooting at night, are the congregating Tiger Beetles (Cicindelinae)

  46. Tiger Beetles (Cicindelinae) - DSC_0791
  47. I would usually give these Tiger Beetles (Cicindelinae) a miss, but this pair was sleeping side by side and it looked like a good photo-op!

  48. Tiger Beetles (Cicindelinae) - DSC_0792
  49. Like brothers! (or sisters?)

  50. Daddy-Long-Legs Spider (Pholcidae) - DSC_0688
  51. A Daddy-Long-Legs Spider (Pholcidae) carrying her egg sac

  52. Comb-Footed Spider (Theridiidae) - DSC_0706
  53. A beautiful but tiny Comb-Footed Spider (Theridiidae). It has distinctly protruding red eyes!

  54. I will be posting part II of this night's trip shortly, with another subject that I have been hunting for the past year!!

The complete album can be viewed here.
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