Large Fire Ant colonies can contain up to 100,000 individuals.


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Tree Ants and Grasshopper Tree Ants capture a grasshopper
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Predators

A food chain is simply a description of who eats what in an environment. In any terrestrial ecosystem there are herbivorous bugs that eat plants, detritivorous bugs that feed on leaf litter and dead animals, and carnivorous bugs—ferocious predators of live animals, including other bugs.

Who Eats What

A food chain describes the transfer of energy from an organism to other organisms. Each animal and plant can be thought of as a link in the chain. Ants, for example, may have located a food source in an injured cricket. Hundreds of worker ants march out in single file to bring the food back to the nest. But there are other hungry predators, such as the thorny devil, that love to eat ants. The food chain is:

Indian House Cricket  Meat Ant   Thorny Devil

Each arrow means ‘is eaten by’ and shows the flow of energy from one living thing to the next. You can extend the food chain. What do crickets eat? What would eat thorny devils?

Bugs Eating Bugs

It is said that insects are their own worst enemy. The most important predators of bugs are other bugs. There are thousands of bug-eating bugs, more than half of which are beetles. These include ladybirds, fireflies, tiger beetles, ground beetles and water tigers.

Many ants are insectivorous, as are all of the social wasps and most of the solitary ones. Other insectivorous species include dragonflies, damselflies, robber flies, many hover flies, lacewings, antlions, ambush bugs and assassin bugs (True Bugs). Some carnivorous bugs will eat almost anything they can catch, while others specialise on particular types of prey.

Techniques

All insectivorous bugs have special adaptations and behaviours that allow them to trap the animals that they will eat. Praying mantids will sit motionless and perfectly camouflaged, waiting to ambush their prey. Their forelegs are armed with sharp spines and they strike with lightning speed. They will attack and eat anything that comes close enough, even their mates.

Different species of spiders use either ‘web-catching’ or ‘hunting’ techniques to catch their prey. Species that are web-catchers weave elaborate webs and wait for their victims to become ensnared in the sticky silken threads. Spiders like the wolf spider are vagrant hunters and actively stalk their prey on foot.


Classification
Praying Mantids
Beetles
 Spiders  Dragonflies & Damselflies
 Crickets  Lacewings & Antlions
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Diving Beetles, link to large image Diving Beetles


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Parasitic Wasp, link to large image Parasitic Wasp



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Wolf Spider, link to large image Wolf Spider
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