Two Predators, One Prey

Jul 20, 2015

Sometimes you just can't win for losing.

This morning a newly emerged Gulf Fritillary butterfly (Agraulis vanillae) began drying its damp wings,  preparing for flight. It had just emerged from its chrysalis. Soon it would be off to do what Gulf Frits do: leave its host plant, the passionflower vine, and find a mate.

It was not to be.

A cunning praying mantis, camouflaged as a green stem, snared it, grasping it in its spiked forelegs. Then it did one praying mantids do. It bit off its head and proceeded to eat it.

Quick and easy prey, for sure. But the mantis was not alone. A European paper wasp, seeking a little free protein to take back to her colony, got into the act, circling the struggling butterfly and taking quick bites.

The wasp carefully evaded the mantid's head and spiked forelegs.

If it it had not, this it would have been a two-course dinner. Butterfly first, wasp second.

Mouse Productions filmed a battle between a praying mantis and a wasp back in 2013. The mantis won. See YouTube video.