Predatory Stink Bugs Raiding Tent Caterpillar Nest
On May 20, 2012, we were out in the yard looking at the resurging population of tent caterpillars on the little chokecherry trees that grow there. And on one of the tent caterpillar webs, we saw this bunch of young toughs hanging around, looking to cause trouble:
These are pretty obviously predatory stink bugs in the subfamily Asopinae, and they resemble some that I’ve posted before. They’re nymphs, as is clear from the fact that they don’t have any wings. Here’s one that’s just finished one victim (corpse in lower left), and is heading for another with its switchblade-like proboscis out for the kill:
As it turned out, though, it didn’t make the kill. Once it got close, the caterpillar started lashing its head back and forth, pummeling the stink bug until it decided to go off looking for something easier. Still, the stink bugs had obviously been successful before. Here’s one licking out the remains of a dead caterpillar while two others look on:
And here’s the trail of corpses.
The stink bugs weren’t the only predators around; there were also a few ants looking for whatever they could grab.
Overall, it looked pretty bad for the tent caterpillars. And when I went back a couple of days later, the web was empty of all except dead bodies. So, it is clear that while the webs may be a decent defense against some predators, they are not much help against the roving stink bug gangs.