Friday, December 28, 2018

Phymata Stood Out during the Drought Summer

This Phymata nymph is on the disk flowers of
Echinacea purpurea.  He appears to smile,
and I smiled to see him!  Creek Field, July 2018.
This handsome Phymata struts his stuff on a
Rosinweed leaf.  Creek Field, July 2018.
 So many plant species were inhibited by the drought in the summer of 2018--not bothering to bloom or even appear at all. However, others responded to the dryness through extra production of blossoms--as if they might never get the chance to reproduce again.   Three species in that latter category were Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Rosinweed (Silphium integrifolium), and Snow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbium marginata), all in our bottomland prairie restoration here on McDowell Creek, in the Flint Hills of Kansas.  
Check out the enlarged femur on this
charmer's front leg!  "Phymata" means
"swollen"--a good description of that muscular
front leg designed for grabbing prey. 
Creek Field, July 2018.

And on every blooming plant, there was a Jagged Ambush Bug!  The presence of Jagged Ambush Bugs (Phymata spp.), and other carnivorous insects, is an indicator of a maturing prairie restoration, so I was happy to see them.   I only hope there were plenty of prey-insects to sustain them and allow them to reproduce successfully.  

Jagged spines and juts
Snagging sunlight turned to meat
by unwary bugs.