Favorite Arthropod-Plant Relationships?

I’m looking for subjects for illustrations like the ones below (except…better and more accurate, because these two were kind of me just playing around), but I’m having some difficulty tracking down the information I need. My bug guidebook sometimes mentions larval host plants, but for many species that information is vague or missing entirely. Also, I’d like to include plants that are significant for other stages of development (when applicable), as I know some pollinators only feed on select species even as adults.

So if you have a favorite arthropod that has a special relationship with one or more species of plants (or superficially plant-like organisms perhaps, especially for aquatic creatures), please leave a comment below! Even if the animal doesn’t feed on the plant itself, but maybe has preferred species it uses as hunting grounds (i.e. some crab spiders), or some other special relationship, I’m interested in that information as well.

Apologies in advance if I don’t reply to every comment, or take a long time to respond. I get socially overwhelmed very easily, and it’s absolutely nothing personal against anyone.



One of my favorites is a native fairy bee (Perdita) that specializes on a genus of nightshade (Chamaesaracha) https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/271677-Perdita-chamaesarachae

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Cucullia lychnitis caterpillars on Verbascum, very fitting colours of the two.


Ptiloglossa / Passiflora foetida

The Ptiloglossa flies before dawn, which is when the vine begins to bloom for just a few short hours. This bee has striking, large eyes which allow it to see in the low light but flies rather awkwardly, guided by the bright white of the blooms themselves and often lands comically adjacent.

After a sometimes secondary flight to the bloom, it walks around the corona where its large body pushes the anthers up against the stigma, triggering the pollen fall across its fuzzy shoulders and head. It is the only bee large enough to trigger the pollen fall.

As the bee travels from bloom to bloom, it takes on the look of jewelry, golden with pollen.

As dawn breaks, other smaller bees arrive to gather any remaining pollen fallen behind, attempting complicated gymnastics to glean any that remains on the anthers before the blooms close forever, but they look small, ill-designed for the flowers compared to the Ptiloglossa.


Just to point out, pollinators (including specialists) are largely not collecting the pollen to feed on as adults but are collecting it for their young to eat when they hatch.

One that I’ve always liked is Andrena erigeniae. Pollinates Claytonia. https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/198996-Andrena-erigeniae


Moneilema gigas on prickly pear is a neat one that could be visually interesting

The white underwing is cool because one of its main hostplants is quaking aspen, and the adult moths and caterpillars are both beautifully camouflaged against white aspen bark.

There’s also Ipomoea alba and Agrius cingulata- sphinx moths are the main pollinators for the flowers, and A. cingulata uses moonflower as a larval hostplant.


Well, I’m pretty keen on galls, especially oak galls. Some of them look like Christmas tree ornaments.




I was just coming to say galls! Especially oak and hickory galls.

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I like that you noticed the cinnabar moth.

I don’t remember whether I replied to this thread, but as a life-long aroid fan (and member of the International Aroid Society since 1998), I’d like to give a shout out to the scarabs. Dieffenbachia, among other aroid genera, have a very complex pollination system. First comes female anthesis, with the pistillate flowers at the base of the spadix becoming receptive. The inflorescence produces a scent that attracts scarab beetles. Some of these beetles will have pollen on them from the night before, which sticks to the receptive stigmas. Then the spathe closes up, trapping the beetles inside. They spend the night inside the inflorescence, and engage in their own mating during that time. The next day is male anthesis, as the staminate flowers at the top of the spadix release pollen. When the spathe opens again, releasing the captive beetles, they climb out along the spadix and get covered with pollen again. Then they smell another inflorescence that is at female anthesis and do it all over again.


First I love your artwork. It is like heraldry for arthropods. You are representing the largely unrepresented. Good on you.

I would like to suggest the ocean spray fairy moth - https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/317689-Adela-septentrionella and its association with ocean spray. Even the mating behaviour of these moths is suggestive of heraldry.


I like those moths. First noticed them this year near Swartz Bay while looking for bees.

Yes, there are a lot of amazing photos of galls in iNat’s various projects focused on arthropod galls.

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