This thread-legged bug appears to be hanging in mid-air, but in fact it has delicately balanced itself on a spider web. Its beak holds a small spider that it must have just plucked from the center of the web.
Some thread-legged specialize in spiders, and I wonder if this might be one of them. Some are even known to lure the spider by plucking at the web like captured prey might.
This assassin bug mimics a bee quite well. It even seems to have pollen baskets on its hind legs.
It looks somewhat clumsy at this stage, but it’s nonetheless a capable predator.
I forgot to turn off one of the flash heads so as to avoid the double eye highlight.
For me, those wings are what really give this assassin bug in the family Reduviidae the appearance of a bee.
Only one reader commented on the latest identification challenge. Bryan Reynolds found it easy to identify this as a thread-legged bug in the subfamily Emesinae (family Reduviidae). Be sure to check out Bryan’s new non-profit, The Butterflies of the World Foundation.
This thread-legged bug was spotted in some leaf litter, finishing off some sort of nondescript prey.
As I suspected, this challenge was easily met by all commenters.
It is of course Arilus cristatus, commonly known as the wheel bug for the very structure shown above. I didn’t get a full body shot of this specimen, but here’s a wider view.
Among the largest assassin bugs in North America, they can deliver a painful stab with that beak. I foolishly held one when I was a kid, and I’ll not be making that mistake twice.
For more info, see the species info page at BugGuide.
Tropical assassin bugs come in an amazing variety of forms. This one reminds me of a bee, though I didn’t see anything on my trip that might serve as a model. Despite extensive searching of the internet, I didn’t turn up any photos of a species resembling this individual.
A couple of my books do mention assassin bugs that mimic bees and wasps, so I think that’s probably what’s going on here.