Photo of the Week – April 6, 2018

Predators play key roles in ecosystems.  When they are absent or rare, impacts ripple through landscapes, often in unexpected ways.  We all rely on the presence and effectiveness of predators, but usually fail to adequately celebrate their importance.

When thinking about predators, most people probably conjure up images of lions, tigers, bears, and other large vertebrates.  However, smaller invertebrate predators play the same kinds of critical roles as those big animals.  Here are a few portraits of tiny predators that help keep prairies healthy and vibrant.

No one will be surprised that I included a crab spider in this batch of images. This one ambushed a hover fly on hoary vervain (Verbena stricta).

This juvenile assassin bug is finishing off a fly.

This adult assassin bug sits poised and ready to attack any prey that comes near.

Jumping spiders, the teddy bears of spiders, are very effective predators – maybe because their prey gets distracted by their cuteness.

Dragonflies are large nimble predators that (fortunately for us) are big enough to handle small insects, but not big enough to cause us harm.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
This entry was posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Photo of the Week – April 6, 2018

  1. Patrick says:

    What, no robber fly?

  2. Terrence Cox says:

    Great post. I was thinking praying mantis the whole time too… :)

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