Added 2 new A* pages:In looking for reference photos of bees (apis mellifera, the "European honey bee," specifically), I found some pretty neat ones on Wikipedia:|
Who knew bees were this fuzzy?
image by Maciek mono (source)
Carrying pollen back to the hive!
image by Muhammad Mahdi Karim (source)
I got to wondering about stings, and ended up at the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, a sorta subjective scale of pain of different insect bites/stings compiled by painful personal experience of American entomologist Schmidt--he rates a honey bee sting about middle of the road, "like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin." Well of course we want to know what the most painful one is, and he considers that to be the venomous bite of the bullet ant, so-called because the pain of its bite is said to be as painful as a bullet shot. :o In Central America, where it lives, it is called (in the vernacular), the "24 hour ant," referring to the 24 hours of pain you're in for if one bites you. Yikes!
The one that really gets me, though, is #2 on Schmidt's index, the tarantula hawk. The female tarantula hawk, a two-inch-long black wasp with rust-colored wings, swoops down on a tarantula, paralyzes it with its excruciatingly painful sting, drags it
image by Astrobradley (source)
back to her nest, lays an egg on it, and then covers the entrance of the burrow. The wasp larva hatches and drills into the tarantula's abdomen where it proceeds to devour the still-living spider's juicy innards, "avoiding vital organs for as long as possible to keep the spider alive."
The adult wasps eat nectar and sometimes get drunk from fermented fruit. :P
I'm kind of surprised that there are enough tarantulas around for another species to use them as their vehicle for childbirth! I suppose this is because I don't live in the tarantula part of the world. I always thought they were neat though when I'd see one in a display as a kid, except sometimes they'd look a little bald and ragged where they'd scraped off all their hairs to fling at enemies or prey or whatever they supposedly do with them. I assume tarantula hawks just laugh off such feeble countermeasures. :P