Lethal Hitchhikers

The previous two posts discuss blister beetles, hyper metamorphosis and the need for the blister beetle triungulin stage to find food. Some blister beetles have expanded beyond feeding on grasshopper eggs. Ground nesting bees pack underground nests with pollen as food for the bee larvae that hatch from their eggs. Both the pollen and immature bees are suitable food for blister beetles. The task for the blister beetle is finding them.

Some triungulin larvae of blister beetles wait on flowers for bee pollinators. They grasp the hairs of a pollinating bee with their claws and hitchhike back to the bee’s nest. Some blister beetles can mimic the odor of a female bee and attract male bees to a cluster of triungulins. The triungulins ride on the male until it mates with a female, then transfer to the female during mating. The female carries them to her nest when she returns to lay fertilized eggs.

The blister beetles can consume all of the pollen provided for the developing bee larvae. When the pollen is finished, the blister beetles will eat the immature bees.

Triungulin Larvae

Blister Beetle Triungulin Larvae Cover the Abdomen of a Male Bee

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.
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One Response to Lethal Hitchhikers

  1. Pingback: Lethal Hitchhikers | Living With Insects Blog

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