Other Insects
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Chin’s Nature Corner

Other Insects

Weaver Ants BEING a tropical country, Malaysia has a very rich insect fauna. It is a paradise for those who want to study the many facets of the life of these six-legged creatures, such as their often interesting life history, and phenomena like mimicry.

Insects can be found in or outside the house all year round. In fact, the picture of the Weaver Ants you see above was taken right in the front yard of my sister's house in Bruas, Perak. The picture of the Crazy Ants below was taken right in front of my house in suburban Kuala Lumpur at a time when we had a stand of bamboo. We had to remove the bamboos when they fell over during a rain storm.

So, here are some of the many insects that I have photographed, ranging from the common species that one can find right in the house compound to uncommon ones that inhabit in the Malaysian rainforest.

Crazy Ants

Crazy Ant (Anoplolepis longipes) – Some years ago (1994), I noticed some ants kissing. They were the Crazy Ants, and I took pictures of them doing it. Later, I learned that ant species, like the Weaver Ant (see above), and other social insects also have this habit. When they “kiss” these insects are in fact engaging in trophallaxis, the exchange of alimentary liquids between members of a colony.

Weaver Ant (Oecophylla smaragdina) – Weaver Ants emerge in angry hordes to defend their colony when their nest is disturbed, and their bite is excruciating. This species is the model for the ant-mimicking spider, the Kerengga Ant-like Jumper. In this photograph, I have “zoomed in” on a single ant in order to show how closely the spider resembles it.

Weaver Ant

Stalk-eyed Fly

Stalk-eyed Fly (Family Diopsidae) – This peculiar insect of the tropical rainforest is about the size of a housefly, but more slender. In its natural habitat in damp undergrowth near streams, it’s hard to see this insect as its dark brown colour is very close to that of the leaf litter on which it usually settles. Some species are pests which attack crops like maize (corn) and other grain crops.

Nasute Termite (Family Termitidae) – With a head shaped like a nozzle, the nasute soldier is specially equipped to spray a sticky, noxious liquid to “gum up” and immobilise its enemies, usually ants. Nasute soldiers stand guard on both sides of a column of termite workers carrying bits of lichens or vegetation back to their nest to grow fungus as food.

Nasute Termite

Spider-hunting Wasp

The wasp that bit off a spider’s legs – There was movement on a leaf. It was a wasp struggling with a spider. I moved in and got some shots of this brief drama before the wasp flew away with its victim. Examining the colour slides later, I discovered that the wasp had bitten off all the spider’s legs. Some wasps paralyse spiders and use them as a “living larder” to feed their larvae.

Praying Mantis (Family Mantidae) – The praying mantis is a fast eater. When I first spotted this young specimen in a garden, it had just caught a grasshopper about half its size. By the time I got my camera from the house and attached a flash unit to it (in less than five minutes), it had tucked away most of its prey. What was left was a small portion of a leg.

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis (Family Mantidae) – Praying mantids are untidy eaters, perhaps because they eat very fast. Bits and pieces of the meal fall off as they chomped up their prey. The mantids do not eat the fallen-off fragments. I photographed this specimen, which was only slightly more than 2cm (about one inch) in length, in a recreation forest.

Praying Mantis (Family Mantidae) – This praying mantis is well camouflaged as it waits in ambush for prey. Its light green colour blends in effectively with this bunch of flowers, and it would be difficult to be seen by any insect that visits the flowers for nectar. Click on the picture for a slightly larger image if you cannot making it out.

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis (Family Mantidae) – This mantis also relies on camouflage to catch its prey. Its “colour scheme” is similar to that of the stalk of flower buds. However, because I used flash, it “sticks out like a sore thumb” from the dark background in this photo. In nature, among the green bushes, it was quite difficult to spot.

Praying Mantis Nymphs – “Baby” praying mantids, or nymphs, look like the adults from the day they hatch out from their eggs. Unlike other insects which undergo complete meta-morphosis, they do not go through the larva and pupa stages. Initially, the nymphs do not have wings but these will develop as they grow and turn into adults.

Praying Mantis Nymphs

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 This page revised on 22 May 2005. Copyright © Chin Fah Shin.
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