"It's a trap!"
There's a little green plant with pretty white flowers that grows a few feet NW of our shade tarp.
We really didn't pay much attention to it until one day it ate a Pearl Crescent. Upon close inspection, it literally appeared that the butterfly was dead, stuck in between flowers and caught on a dead bloom. I had seen a butterfly in a similar situation in New Mexico almost a year ago, but the culprit had vanished. This time, the critter was still there. It was the dead bloom... also known as the Ambush Bug!
Technically a shrub is a woody plant around a meter in height. This plant is not a shrub. But I've affectionately started to call it the Ambush Shrub, Shrub of Doom, etc. On the first day that we saw the Pearl Crescent succumb to a tempting flower, only one Ambush Bug was noticed. That was the 16th. On the 18th, four were counted on four blossoms. On the 20th, there were six of them, still on four blossoms. And along with them, there were little flower spiders! So it wasn't too much of a surprise when a Reakirt's Blue was nectaring in an uncomfortable position...
How many threats to the butterfly can you find in the photo below?
It will be interesting to see how this menu diversifies over the next two months. Thankfully our Nysa Roadside Skipper hasn't fallen prey to the Ambush Plant yet, and hopefully our one Small Checkered Skipper at the site won't be the next, either. Granted, that may be the only way to get a cooperative photo of it!
Kind of looks like it wants a hug...
Our humble opinion:
Here's my awesome computer art skills answering the earlier question: 1 spider and 2 Ambush Bugs
Rest in peace, little Reakirt's!