More Caterpillar Eaters

This Ichneumon wasp, perhaps Therion circumflexum, is trying to jab a caterpillar with one of her eggs. Wasps, both parasitic and social, take down a lot of caterpillars.

Dark Paper Wasp laying eggs and provisioning the larvae to come. The eggs are the off-whiteish spheres. The food is more globular and clearer or even golden. I think these jewel-like gobbets are chewed-up insects, including caterpillars.


It was raining caterpillars in Dutchess County this past week. You could hear the frass, the poop, dripping down from the leaves—I found more frass than ticks on the dog—while silk-suspended larvae dangled everywhere.

A selection:

(Shh, I’m a twig!)

(This one had just been jabbed by a parasitic wasp.)

(A twofer)

All this meat lead to some carnage:

These Complex Formica pallidefulva ants were having a field day.

The local Robins’ nestlings were been fed well (here with some earthworms).

Checking Out That Mud Nest Again

This is the competed Mediterranean Potter Wasp nest I watching being built on May 24th, just before leaving town for a week. I didn’t get to see it completed then. When I got back to NYC this past Thursday, I returned to the scene of the pot-making. The nest, as you see, is now capped. There should be some drama going on in there: the larval wasp eating the caterpillar(s) momma provisioned the nest with. (A parasitic wasp larva in there eating the potter wasp larva and the caterpillar isn’t out of the question.)

Speaking of caterpillars, just wait until tomorrow’s post.

Froggy Went A Courtin’

Saturday night, dog-sitting. Take the dog out around 10pm. There’s a loud noise coming from the barely visible pond area down at the beginning of the driveway. First I’ve heard this sound. I record it. I listen to several frog songs online. Ah: Gray Treefrog/Hyla versicolor. The next day I can hear a few more during the day.

Late in the afternoon, one sounds like it’s in the living room. Just outside, actually.

Sunday night, it’s a whole chorus.

Two days later, behind the gutter pipe:

The last night.

Snake in the Road

Eastern/Gray Ratsnake Complex (Complex Pantherophis alleghaniensis)

And another, rather bigger.

But with a rather abbreviated tail.

Raptor Wednesday

Not one, but

Two Red-shouldered Hawks soaring over Staatsburg.

A Red-tailed Hawk in the woods out back. Picture through the screened window…

Fox in the distance

Almost the same place two days later, I looked back while walking the dog just before 6am…

(And another sighting 45 minutes before we go to press this morning…)


Fragile? Well, that’s the common name of Ischnura posita, but they’re tough enough for most NYC habitats.

Another Fragile Forktail, recently emerged.

Eastern/Ischnura verticalis.

Currently upstate, where I spotted an Aurora Damsel/Chromagrion conditum for the first time. More upstaters:

Lancet Clubtail/Phanogomphus exilis

Azure Bluet/Enallagma aspersum

Skinning Bluet/Enallagma geminatum

Springtime Darner/Basiaeschna janata

A good perch is hard to find… Common Whitetail/Plathemis Lydia joins that Springtime Darner.

Mediterranean Potter Wasp/Eumenes mediterraneus







A paralyzed caterpillar will be stuffed in here with one of the wasps’s eggs. I observed for about a dozen more minutes to see if that would happen while I was there, but I didn’t see her again. (Another iNaturalist user has captured this.)

More about this introduced species.

Upwards Facing Bird (Yoga Pose?)

(With one eye, anyway.)


I wrote a feature on Black Mask magazine, the birth of the hardboiled detective, and the Klan they fought in fiction.


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