At the forefront

August 28th is (don’t you hate when someone comes out and announces something that even a pre-schooler already knows, as if you are the sole idiot in the world who doesn’t, or maybe it’s simply laziness in finding an opening sentence?) Get Up In Phymata’s Phace Day, and yes it’s spelled that way. I won’t insult you by trying to tell you what a Phymata is, but the alliteration worked much better than the alternative, common name, which I’m not telling you. Anyway, there are no days of the week that start with the same letter; perhaps they could have made it an entire month, but Phymata aren’t as active in June or July.

Ignoring all that, I’m on the case.

jagged ambush bug genus Phymata on butterfly bush Buddleia davidii
As luck would have it, there was a jagged ambush bug Phymata hanging out on one of the butterfly bushes, so I could celebrate the holiday as necessary. But that’s not close enough – we’ll go in tighter on the same frame.

jagged ambush bug genus Phymata in close detail
This close, it’s easy to see where they get their name which I’m not telling you. But there’s some other details which bear noticing (aside from that captivating, hypnotic compound eye,) because. Notice the whiskers under the eye? Yeah, Phymata don’t have whiskers; they’re from something else, and if you look closely you can see evidence of them elsewhere too. This revealed what the Phymata’s last meal was, indicating that the perch was effective, at least.

Another shot, hinting that I might not have been the only nature photographer taking advantage of the holiday here at Walkabout Studios, and the Phymata was getting quite tired of the attention.

jagged ambush bug genus Phymata lifting foreleg near face
While it certainly looks as if it’s shying away and shielding its face, that seems unlikely, because Phymata are attention whores. No, I keed, that would work against them, but I’ve never seen one posing like this, anyway, and this was as I had backed off a little for a more full-bodied grape juice view. Bearing in mind that my subject here is roughly 8mm in body length, able to perch comfortably on your pinky fingernail without overlapping the edges, I was thus using the high-magnification lens, and focus range is eentsy. So, yeah, the occasional frame didn’t quite nail intended focus, but in one case, it showed other details.

closeup detail of jagged ambush bug Phymata foreleg, with clasping surfaces and moth remains
Here we get to see some of the detail on those forelegs, with the serrated grasping surfaces, and once again the remains of the Phymata’s last meal, or at least the attempt at such: the scales and body hairs of some kind of moth. Probably not a big one, considering, but Phymata are fairly capable predators, so the meal might easily have outmassed the jagged ambush bug – strike that name from the record. I actually went looking for the corpse underneath its perch but found nothing – not surprising, considering how little it might have been, the amount of leaf litter underneath the butterfly bush, and the bare fact that ants may have made off with the remains.

In closing, a photo from last night, but this was before the holiday so I was not allowed to get as close as I did today. I had gone through the region with the mist sprayer, so this was one beneficiary; others will be along soon enough.

jagged ambush bug genus Phymata nestled in among blossoms of butterfly bush Buddleia davidii