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Author Topic: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??  (Read 12827 times)

Offline staceykcmu

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bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« on: August 25, 2011, 10:47:16 pm »
Hello, I am not a beekeeper, but I observed a strange (disturbing) bee behavior on my camping trip in West Virginia and wanted to get some help, and sorry for cross-posting.

First, a bee was repeatedly stinging a green caterpillar. This appeared to attract at least 4 other bees who landed on the caterpillar. Their bodies seemed to be moving similar to how they move when collecting nectar from a flower. Shortly after, the caterpillar was cut in half and it seemed like the bees were consuming its interior juices.

At first, I thought they were simply defending an area that the caterpillar tresspassed. However, soon after, I saw the same thing happen to the same type of green caterpillar that was much larger in size. The caterpillar was so large that one bee was actually inside its carcass and appeared to be drinking its juice along with 4 other bees that were eating the caterpillar from the outside.

Is this normal bee behavior: bees coordinating an attack on a caterpillar and then eating it?

I am sure these were not wasps. They were bees...  :?

Offline JP

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2011, 10:53:58 pm »
I don't believe what you witnessed was honeybees but without pictures of what you saw its difficult to speculate. Perhaps some type of bee or better yet hornets or yellow jackets would be my best guess.


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Offline BlueBee

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2011, 11:29:48 pm »
I have raised native giant silk moths here in Michigan and YES wasps and hornets do tear apart my caterpillars and eat them!  I have to cover my silk moths with wedding tulle to prevent that catastrophe.  I have never seen honey bees do it though. 

In the case of the wasps and hornets, they may be after the protein that is in the caterpillar’s tissues.  As for honeybees, I can’t say it’s impossible, but seems unlikely to me since they get their protein from pollen. 

Offline CapnChkn

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2011, 02:14:24 am »
Were the attacking insects Fuzzy?  Or were they smooth?
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Offline SerenaSYH

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2011, 03:51:27 am »
lol, sound like a good 'ole yellowjacket to me! and no, that's not!! honeybees or bees...

Yellowjackets love tearing apart and hauling off their prey. They typically prey on fat rose slugs, juicy caterpillars and anything they can sting the bejeebers out of, including other poor honeybees.

Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2011, 10:49:50 am »

I am sure these were not wasps. They were bees...  :?


Not honeybees.  Some type of wasp.  Hornets and Yellowjackets are wasps.
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Offline iddee

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2011, 01:09:39 pm »
Could you point to a link about that. I thought there were 3 categories. Bees, wasps, and hornets. Can you show me something where it says hornets are wasps? Maybe I can learn something today.
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Offline caticind

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2011, 01:26:00 pm »
Could you point to a link about that. I thought there were 3 categories. Bees, wasps, and hornets. Can you show me something where it says hornets are wasps? Maybe I can learn something today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hornet

"Hornets are the largest eusocial wasps..."

The term wasp is typically defined as any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant.  Hornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps are all in the family Vespidae (paper wasps slightly less related to the other two).
« Last Edit: August 26, 2011, 01:40:53 pm by caticind »
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Offline Finski

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2011, 03:58:12 pm »
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Honeybee can sting only once. Then its sting attach to victim like a harpoon. Then the bee will be dead after some hours.

Wasp's hunting weapon is meant to use continuously.

1.000.000 % sure that they are  wasps.
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Offline iddee

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2011, 04:25:27 pm »
OK. I think my mistake was thinking of paper wasps, rather than just wasps, as not including hornets.
I stand corrected.
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Offline greenbtree

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2011, 02:53:53 am »
Never to old or experienced to learn something new.  Thank goodness!  Think how boring it would be knowing everything!

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Offline Finski

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2011, 07:02:11 pm »
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Most of people in my country  do not make difference with honeybee and wasp.

 
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2011, 11:09:36 pm »
All of the cartoon pictures you've seen of bees are a caricature of a yellow jacket.  Bees are not yellow and black, nor are they shiny.  Yellow jackets are.  Yellow jackets eat "meat" including caterpillars.  Bees do not.
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Offline Finski

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2011, 09:23:27 am »
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Main food of wasp is aphids. 

once I saw very big brown aphids on oak leaves.. Wasp went very close to big aphids but they did not react on them.
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Offline hvac professor

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2011, 05:12:04 pm »
today i was walking out of the garage and a yellow wasp (i am assuming a wasp??) was coming in with a smooth green worm in the grasp.
That instantly reminded me of this post. I live in upstate ny and observed this today

Offline jtow

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #15 on: August 30, 2011, 07:27:10 pm »
Just a note on something I read once concerning honeybee stingers. The stinger did not stick in an insect that she stings thereby enabling her to sting multiple times, but would stick in a mammals skin however, and so pull out thereby killing the bee.

Offline BlueBee

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #16 on: August 30, 2011, 10:53:45 pm »
I was kind of wondering the same things as jtow reported above, but I don’t know for sure.  When a bee tries to sting my rubber gloves the stinger doesn’t stick and the bee doesn’t die.

Finski, are the wasps after the honey dew from the Aphids, or do they eat the aphids themselves?

Offline Finski

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2011, 12:11:06 am »

Finski, are the wasps after the honey dew from the Aphids, or do they eat the aphids themselves?


they eate a whole aphid. When wasps notice a bush which has much aphids, it will be cleaned in couple of days.

When I am walking in the woods inthe evening and it is very silent, high on branches wood is singing. They are numerous wasps which are harvesting  aphids pastures.

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Offline FRAMEshift

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #18 on: September 01, 2011, 09:40:52 am »
During August we had lots of large dark blue wasps in the area around our house.  I noticed that their preferred food was very large locusts, about 4 times the size of the wasps.  The wasps were flying around carrying these huge locusts, but had to make frequent stops because they were so heavy.
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Offline caticind

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Re: bees attacking and eating green caterpillars??
« Reply #19 on: September 01, 2011, 01:04:34 pm »
Around here I have seen GIANT cicada-killer wasps, yellow and black, 2-3 inches long.  They are apparently a ground-dwelling solitary species that goes after large insect prey, esp cicadas when those are available.

Good thing they don't choose to attack bees.   :shock:
The bees would be no help; they would tumble over each other like golden babies and thrum wordlessly on the subjects of queens and sex and pollen-gluey feet. -Palimpsest