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Not As Long-tailed

Last August, I watched a Long-tailed Giant Ichneumonid Wasp laying her eggs in the branch of a hickory in Green-Wood. (Spoiler: that’s not her above.)

On the 13th of this month, I walked by this hickory and saw that the branch, which lost a good bit of itself this winter, had been cut off.
On Friday, I walked by and whoa, lookee here! Another big wasp ovipositing!

But when she pulled her ovipositor out (first image), I thought, well, that’s rather short, isn’t it? I mean, for these Megarhyssa macrurus beasts. That shorter ovipositor, and the wing pattern, show this to actually be another species of Megarhyssa. This is Greene’s Giant Icnheumonid, M. greenei.

Megarhyssa are parasites of Pigeon Horntail larvae.


Horntail adult females introduce wood-digesting fungi (e.g. Amylostereum) when ovipositing, which helps their grubs extract food value while feeding on the wood. Adult female Megarhyssa are able to detect the odor of these fungi, and once they land on the bark of an infected tree the Megarhyssa will walk along tapping the surface with their antennae (or “antennating”) to further pinpoint the location of horntail grubs within the wood. 

Once grubs are located, the female Megarhyssa positions herself with back legs extended and ovipositor perpendicular to the bark, and drills into the tree to deposit an egg on or near a horntail grub within its burrow (see videos here). While drilling the female wasp is immobilized and vulnerable to predation by birds

When the Megarhyssa egg hatches it behaves as an ectoparasitic idiobiont, completely consuming the grub. It pupates within the burrow and emerges in the summer.


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I try to photograph every Monarch I see for iNaturalist. At one or two a day, lately, that’s not hard. The species was just classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.


Pycnanthemum, mountain mints, are the bomb.

New Wasp

This wasp has captured a nymph treehopper. Now, most wasps I see that look sort of like this feed their young caterpillars.
So what’s this? Well, it seems to be a Hoplisoides genus sand wasp. Not at all one of the potter and mason wasps I originally thought it might be. I hadn’t even heard of this genus before, and I thought I was pretty good on the wasps for a non-specialist.

Raptor Wednesday

In the pouring rain.
In better weather.

Baby Food

Quite the mouthful here in this Robin’s bill. Beetle, earwig, at least three caterpillars.
I’ve recorded 638 arthropods in Green-Wood. 816 in the city as a whole. Imagine these numbers if I was a bird!

Mammal Monday

Here’s a just-published study of mammal diversity in the NYC area. Not surprisingly, “mammal species richness was higher in greenspaces with larger patch sizes and lower in greenspaces surrounded by more development. […] diversity and evenness were higher in urban natural landscapes than human-altered landscapes.”

Fifteen taxa, including Homo. Small rodents were lumped together at family Muridae level. “The three most common mammal taxa were free-ranging cats (F. catus), gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), and raccoons (P. lotor); these were found at all 31 study sites.” Fucking feral cats.

I’ve seen all the study animals somewhere in the five boroughs except for Red Fox and Mink (which seems to have been spotted only once). Chipmunks, Cottontails, Coyote, Domestic Cat, Domestic Dog, Gray Squirrel, Groundhog, Raccoon, Striped Skunk (footprints and corpse so far), Virginia Opossum, White-tailed Deer. Among the wee rodents: Brown Rat and White-footed Mouse.

Just noticing Muskrat not in the study. I’ve seen them in The Bronx, Staten Island, and here in Brooklyn. Other mammals not covered: the bats. Eastern Red Bat and Big Brown Bat I’ve seen in-the-fur here in Brooklyn.

Stalking, Striking, Swallowing

A Great Blue Heron feather-deep in the Dell Water.
Goldfish down the long, long gullet.

Swamp Darner

Am I seeing more Swamp Darners or am I just better at seeing them?
This one is shredding a stink bug.
Afterwards, tiny flies swarmed the big dragonfly. All over the face and eyes.

Larval Forms

From bird turd to…
…this whatsit, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar sure has some interesting instars. First one at the top was found on Sweetbay Magnolia. Second one on Black Cherry.


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