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Extension Entomology

Insect Predation

–by Frannie Miller

Sometimes you capture an image that tells a story and just needs to be shared. My daughter captured such as image of a soldier beetle feeding on another species of soldier beetle while its mate looks on helplessly. This is a good reminder about the circle of life and how other organisms provide food for each other.

A predator is an animal or organism that naturally preys on others primarily for food. The prey is the animal or organism that is hunted and killed by another for food. It is important to note that every organism plays an important role in our ecosystem as they serve as food sources for other species. Just because an insect is a predator one day does not mean they can’t become prey to a larger organism. Nature has a delicate balance.

In order to be a good predator, insects must be able to search the environment and recognize what is acceptable prey. Then they have to be quick enough to capture the prey and delicately handle it, so it does not escape. If an insect is not an efficient hunter, they could lose out on dinner.

 

Some insects have adaptations which cause them to be better at capturing their food. Examples may include: improved vision, limiting searches to prey rich habitats, development of a clear search image, improved motor skills and modifications to their appendages, which make it easier to capture prey. It is amazing the learning opportunities that come from one image.

 

Resources: The Insect Predation Game: Evolving Prey Defenses and Predator Responses, https://tiee.esa.org/vol/v4/experiments/insect_predation/description.html

Image courtesy of Tessa Miller, Valley Bluebirds 4-H Club

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