Published July 16, 2015
Tags: Brooklyn, wasps
I’ve heard a few Dog Day Cicadas (Tibicen) recently, at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and here in Cobble Hill, but it’s still early. In anticipation, the Cicada Killer Wasps (Sphecius speciosus) have begun to emerge. Males are generally seen first; they’re out to claim nesting territory.
I saw my first CKW of the summer on Tuesday. I assumed it was male since it looked so small. Wednesday before the monsoon I saw one in the same place. It really favors this wheel. If you look closely at the rear leg below, there seem to be spurs there at the joint, evidently a characteristic of females. Also, this view nicely shows the two pairs of wings, a defining characteristic of the Hymenoptera.
While scary to some people because of their size, these digger wasps are quite harmless to people.
Bald-faced hornets (Dolichovespula maculata) have been in the news recently. There seem to be a lot of their nests in Brooklyn: a bumper crop or just people noticing more of them? While some seem to think they are the Ebola of wasps, the wasps won’t bug you if you don’t bug them, or their nest. This magnificent specimen of wasp-paper was on the ground in Prospect. This year’s wasps are mostly done, except for mated queens, who stash themselves for the winter elsewhere.
Published September 14, 2014
Tags: insects, invertebrates, moths, wasps
That has such creatures in’t! These are all new discoveries for me, excepting the last, because there’s one thing the arthropods prove, and that’s ever-new discoveries.The aptly-named named Saddleback caterpillar (Acharia stimulea), about 2cm long. The adult moth is one of the fuzzy indistinguishable brown jobs, but this larval stage form is amazingly unique. The sting from these spines “may be the most potent of any North American caterpillar” says Wagner. The most elaborate caterpillars generally are giving you a warning. Spotted at the Charleston Cemetery, far western Staten Island, and untouched, although I wasn’t aware of the nasty sting at the time.Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis) seen in Green-Wood. A day-flyer, gathering nectar amid masses of wasps it vaguely mimics. The image in Peterson’s field guide shows an orange collar and Bugguide.net notes that the vast majority are orange-collared, so the common name is a little less than helpful. Another wasp-like non-wasp. This is one of the robber flies in the family Aslidae. It hunts bees and wasps and was patrolling the path along the Marine Park Salt Marsh trail. It would fly low, land, and stare at me until I got too close, then fly forward to land again and stare back at me. Those whiskers would do a hipster proud. Mating Thread-waisted Wasps (Eremnophila aureonotata) at Mt Loretto. I’ve since seen a few solo of the species flying, trailing that long, long waist.Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest in Green-Wood. Their paper nests are usually hiding up in the trees, but recently I’ve seen pictures of them in the grass, and built around the supports of a basketball net.Yes, they are at home. No, they are not taking any visitors.
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.