A couple of years ago, I saw Cicada Killer Wasps (Sphecius speciosus) tunneling nests in two different tree pits in my neighborhood. One of those pits is again a nesting site. It’s notable on the block because it’s the only pit that has a good expanse of bare soil. This wasp was patrolling one of two tunnels here. I’ve read that several females may cooperate on digging one of the long tunnels.
The species name speciosus is from the Latin for showy or beautiful. True enough, but like many things of beauty, your standard human is afraid of them. The males, like all bees and wasps, don’t have stingers to sting. The females would rather save their sting for cicadas, meat for their young. So chill, and enjoy. My hand is inches from this one.
I’ve heard less than half a dozen cicadas in the last month. It’s only the beginning of August, though, and the Dog Days are just beginning.
Revealed by the thinning of the leaves, two more Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nests:Note 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.Both 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.
Published November 1, 2013
Tags: Brooklyn, wasps
I hope your Halloween was without plastic, styrofoam, and corn syrup.
Unless 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.
Published September 23, 2013
Tags: Arizona, insects, wasps
For 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.In 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.