Posts Tagged 'wasps'


Dolichovespula maculataBald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) cutting away at the black locust hand-rails at the Native Plant Garden at NYBG.Dolichovespula maculataLook at those mandibles! Several hundred workers in a colony will build up those football-sized nests so beloved by nature bloggers from wood pulp and saliva; it looks like a lot of work, because it doesn’t seem like much wood is taken by each individual wasp:IMG_6113Dolichovespula maculata

Silent Nests

Revealed by the thinning of the leaves, two more Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nests:Dolichovespula maculataDolichovespula maculataNote the differences in the color pattern of the wood-pulp paper between the above nest and the one below. I have some paper that is predominately reddish, but the one above is the usual pattern I see here in Brooklyn. The all-gray one below is unusual looking.Dolichovespula maculataBoth of these were nearly twice as large as the one I recently discovered in Prospect.

Update: I saw three more of these in Prospect Park today.

Low hanging fruit

waspsI hope your Halloween was without plastic, styrofoam, and corn syrup.

After merely a summer dies the hornet

Dolichovespula maculataUnless she’s a queen. A Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata), caste unknown, unexpectedly by the front door buzzer.

I rarely see this species, but I know they are neighbors. A local nest was revealed by the fall of leaves a couple of seasons ago. The wood-pulp paper nests are abandoned in the fall and not reused, making them safe for removal and adding to your bookshelf. Fertilized queens squirrel themselves away for the winter, to start again the generations next year… if they make it through the winter.

Under A Big Big Sky

Petrified ForestPetrified Forest National Park.Petrified ForestAmid the lithified remains of an ancient forest, where the pebbles themselves were essentially petrified mulch, a moving white fluff on the ground was identified as a Thistledown Velvet Ant (Dasymutilla gloriosa), which is actually a wasp. The female is wingless and furry white, like the seedpod of a creosote bush or a cottonwood. She runs around looking for sand wasp nests to parasitize. Painted Desert


Sphex pensylvanicusFor the budding naturalists I met in the park while photographing these wasps, which of course I couldn’t remember the name of. There were about half a dozen on this milkweed, more than I’ve ever seen at once. This is the Great Black Wasp (Sphex pensylvanicus). The adults, like many of the big wasps, are gentle vegetarians, gathering nectar for themselves, while they hunt grasshopper and katydids for their young. And speaking of katydids, last night they were giving They Might Be Giants a run for the money in Prospect Park with their music.Sphex pensylvanicusIn the first photo, you can see where some of the little pollen packets, the pollinia, of the milkweed has attached itself to the wasp’s front leg.


Sphecius speciosusThe Cicada Killer Wasps (Sphecius speciosus) are out and about now, collecting pollen at flowers to eat, stabbing cicadas for their young…TibicenI’m not telling, but here’s a Dog Day cicada (genus Tibicen), more heard than seen by we ground-huggers.Sphecius speciosusThe two wasps pictured above are males. They’re smaller than the females. Sphecius speciosusHere’s a female, scare-the-horses-ginormous, patrolling her tunnel of a nest under some Bearberry (Arctostaphylos ova-ursi) in the Pine Barrens section of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Black and Yellow

Sceliphron caementariumBlack and Yellow Mud-Dauber (Sceliphron caementarium). Sceliphron caementariumRemember when they spent a winter nesting in the Back 40? And then bundled out of their mud huts after about 9 months entombed in hard mud like ancient Egyptians?


nest1The beginning of a Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest. It would have gotten to be the size of a football (American) if the construction process hadn’t been interrupted.nest2Fallen to the ground from a tree for some reason.nest3You bet I approached it gingerly.


wasp“Paging Dr. Kinsey, paging Dr. Kinsey! Gall wasp emergence on Henry Street…”

Before he went into human sexuality in a big way, pride-of-Hoboken Alfred Kinsey was a specialist in gall wasps, a vast and largely unknown kingdom, at least to us non-specialists.

Back in early February, I posted about two species of gall wasps on an oak in Green-Wood. I bought a couple of the galls home to photograph. One of these had no exit holes, so I popped it into a little plastic box with a magnifying lens built into it. Yesterday, I noticed something moving in it. From the corner of my eye, I thought ant, and thought it must be outside the box. But it was this 5mm gall wasp inside, crawling about. (Ants and wasps are of course in the same order, Hymenoptera, so the morphological similarity makes sense.)

I placed the box into the freezer for about a minute to get this wasp to play dead momentarily for the camera.


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  • Abyssinia you mugs later, and leave you w/this: "I'll be a mickey finn at a women's-club lunch." 5 hours ago
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