The Insect Watering Hole

In dry areas where water is scarce and watering holes are few, animals must visit the watering hole daily. The watering hole provides relief from thirst but may contain hidden dangers. The watering hole will attract predators that wait for prey to come to them.

Insects have their own version of the “Watering Hole”. The “Insect Watering Holes” are flowering plants. Flowering plants offer nectar rewards to attract insect pollinators. Flowering plants also attract predators and parasitoids of the pollinators.

A common parasitoid is Macrosiagon limbata, one of the “wedge shaped beetles” of the family Ripiphoridae. The Ripophorids are parastoids of other insects, often solitary bees and wasps. Eggs are laid on flowers that are visited by host insects. The larva hatches on the flower and waits for a suitable host. The Ripiphorid larva attaches to a host and rides to the nest. The Ripiphorid will enter a larva of the host and wait until the host larva is fully developed, then exit the larva and consume it from the outside.

The antennae of Macrosiagon limbata, are dimorphic. The male antenna is larger than the female antenna. Presumably males use their sense of smell to locate a suitable mate. For males, the Insect Watering Hole is a “happening location” to meet members of the opposite sex. Meeting members of the opposite sex is a feature shared by Insect Watering Holes and Human Watering Holes- the bars and coffee shops.

A Male, Macrosiagon limbata, Beetle enjoys a mint nectar.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

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