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Photo#692208
Thought it was a bee or wasp...with bizarre antennae! - Ripiphorus rex - female

Thought it was a bee or wasp...with bizarre antennae! - Ripiphorus rex - Female
West of Kennedy Meadows, Tulare County, California, USA
June 8, 2012
Size: Body Length ~10mm
This ripiphorid was ovipositing on a Monardella exilis flower-head in bud. In another post, Ron Hemberger also photographed a female Ripiphorus ovipositing on a flower-head of Monardella in bud. Motivated by a comment from Hartmut Wisch, Ron hypothesized that laying eggs on buds might serve to synchronize the emergence of hatchlings with the opening of fresh flowers. The freshly opened flowers would, in turn, attract host bees that the triungulin larvae could hop aboard and ride to the bee's nest...where they could parasitize the brood. After thinking about Ron's observation, I read in Wheeler (1997) that Ripiphorus are indeed known to "often oviposit on flower buds".

More specifically, I noticed that almost all BG posts of ovipositing Ripiphorus were on buds of flower-heads... i.e. dense agglomerations of many small, individual, flowers packed within surrounding bracts. Except for Ron and my sightings on Monardella, and a lone sighting by Joyce Gross on a member of the mallow family, all the posts appeared to be on plants in the family Asteraceae, as seen below:



Joyce's posts was an exception among the others...it showed oviposition on the single-flowered bud of Malacothamnus fremontii in the mallow family (Malvaceae):



It would be interesting to know the extent to which Ripiphorus exhibit preferences for certain plant groups or morphologies, and whether those corresponds to flower preferences of their hosts. For instance, Diadasia are mentioned in Linsley & MacSwain(1) as hosts for Ripiphorus in CA, and according to this web page, a majority of the 38 new world species of Diadasia specialize on flowers in the Malvaceae (and others specialize on flowers in the Asteraceae). Below is a thumbnail for a post of Hartmut's, showing a male Diadasia inside a flower Malacothamnus fremontii...the same species appearing in Joyce's Ripiphorus post referred to above:



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For more info on the species ID for this post, see 1st image in the series.

Images of this individual: tag all
Thought it was a bee or wasp...with bizarre antennae! - Ripiphorus rex - female Thought it was a bee or wasp...with bizarre antennae! - Ripiphorus rex - female Thought it was a bee or wasp...with bizarre antennae! - Ripiphorus rex - female Thought it was a bee or wasp...with bizarre antennae! - Ripiphorus rex - female Thought it was a bee or wasp...with bizarre antennae! - Ripiphorus rex - female Thought it was a bee or wasp...with bizarre antennae! - Ripiphorus rex - female Thought it was a bee or wasp...with bizarre antennae! - Ripiphorus rex - female

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