Metallic Blue Cuckoo Wasp identified by Rik

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zzffnn
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Metallic Blue Cuckoo Wasp identified by Rik

Post by zzffnn »

My son found, in our house (Houston, Texas, USA), this blue insect that looks like a fly. We had fun examining it under microscope.

It looks like the blue insect (E24.jpg and FA2.jpg) shown in this web page:
http://m.taringa.net/posts/imagenes/190 ... Fotos.html

Please kindly provide us an identification.

Also kindly advise us what are the three dots between eyes, as seen in photo E24.jpg? We saw those in our insect too and wonder what organ function they have.

You can simply refer us to a web page without explanation, if you would prefer so.

We haven't got an insect ID book yet, though will likely get a National Audubon Society Field Guide. We have their mineral ID guide and like it.
Last edited by zzffnn on Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

E24 and FA2 are wasps (Hymenoptera), not flies (Diptera). Some of them are strikingly blue, with a sheen that looks metallic to the eye and even in its response to polarization. Some of the most common examples are the chrysidid wasps, which are nest-parasites on other wasps. One example is shown and discussed at http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/v ... php?t=7744 .

The dots between the eyes are light-sensitive organs called ocelli (singular ocellus). Their exact function is unknown in most cases. The description in Chapman, "The Insects // Structure and Function" (4th Edition, page 605) says:
The functions of ocelli remain uncertain. Although an image is produced by the lens it is not in focus on the retina. In addition, the extensive convergence of retinula cells on to a small number of interneurons indicates that form perception would be extremely crude, at best. The structure and physiology of the ocelli suggest that they are adapted for the concentration of light and perception of changes in intensity, the giant interneurons providing a pathway for rapid conduction. In the locust, the ocelli are involved in detecting roll, their sensitivity to rapid changes in light intensity being well suited for the perception of changes in the position of the horizon. In the higher Diptera, where they are on the top of the head, they are not important in the maintenance of stability.
I gather that the anatomy is well studied, so this seems another of the common situations where it is clear what the organs are, but not what they do.

--Rik

zzffnn
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Post by zzffnn »

Brilliant ID and photos, Rik! Thank you, thank you!

We will read about it in detail. My 7yo son can probably do a show-and-tell for his class later on with that and learn some biology.
Selling my Canon FD 200mm F/2.8 lens

zzffnn
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Post by zzffnn »

What is the advantage of having such brilliant metallic blue color? Attracting mates? Edit: or is it Müllerian mimicry?

I changed the title.

It is most likely a Chrysidine, as it can curl into a defensive ball https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuckoo_wasp
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rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

What is the advantage of having such brilliant metallic blue color?
This is another case where I think nobody really knows. Likewise for the elaborate body sculpturing that the chrysidid wasps have.

So many questions, so few answers!

--Rik

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