Posts Tagged 'invertebrates'

Three Wasps Walk Into A Bar…

I. Probably Common Thread-waisted Wasp, Ammophila procera, although the whole Ammophila genus sounds confusing for IDing via camera. So let’s enjoy that orange midriff.Members of the genus parasitize caterpillars and sawfly larvae for their young. A big, bold creature, spotted late last week supping the nectar of seaside goldenrod. Have been seeing these for a few weeks but this was the first time I could get a lens on one.With a sweat bee (Agapostemon) in the mix.II. Gold-marked Thread-waisted Wasp (Eremnophila aureonotata) nectaring on white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima). The gold marking, which is what “aureonotata,” means, seems to be the white gold on the sides of the thorax, seen below. I have a hard time picturing all the plumbing and wiring, as it were, going through that long narrow waist.The females make burrows that they provision with a single caterpillar. Like a lot of wasps, the adults are vegetarians. And note that there’s a dusting of pollen on underside of the body and legs.III. One of the Ichneumonidae family wasps. But which one? iNaturalist suggested a couple of Antipodian species, which was alarming… but a false alarming. suggested Cryptanura septentrionalis, no common name, and this looks good for a match. That’s an ovipositor not a stinger. Since her antennae were moving so rapidly, it’s hard to see them, but they are very long, with some white in the middle of them. She was rapidly sense-feeling the oak bark’s crevasses, presumably for lunch or something to lay her eggs into. No luck in finding any natural history about this species, except that it’s one of two in the genus found north of Mexico. All of the examples are from southern states. On iNaturalist, my example is the furtherest north reported; next nearest is Washington DC.Though the holotype specimen, named in 1945, was collected in Cleveland in the 1930s, and Cleveland, to be fair, is slightly further north than the Bronx.

Autumnal Flowers And Their Familiars

There’s only so much in bloom now.But there are still hungry insects.And insects that eat insects.The goldenrod smorgasbord.

Hairy Cs

It seems the Yellow Bear caterpillar is yellow in early instars, but then individuals takes on a variety of colors. Virginia Tiger Moth, Spilosoma virginica. In Green-Wood last week. The pupae overwinter.Hickory Tussock (Lophocampa caryae) named after a favored food (Carya genus), but “expected on almost any woody species,” says caterpillar maven David L. Wagner. Found all over two weeks ago at a spot along the NY/CT border. Pupae also overwinter.Four days later, this one was still munching away. On the underside of the leaf both days. I suppose that makes this grizzly bear slightly less conspicuous.

A quick update on GoFundMe. First off, thank you again for contributing. The page is still open for anyone else wishing to contribute. Monies take 2-5 days to transfer; the camera shop is closed until Wednesday. (FYI, out-of-towners: the emporium follows an ancient lunar calendar). When forced to shop, I’m a tactile shopper, so I need to see and hold the cameras I’m looking at before making any decisions.

Vespa crabro

These two European hornets were locked in mortal combat. says they’re females. Were they from different colonies, fighting over a food source? This was right next to a compact but rich hunting ground of Buddeleia swarming with butterflies, skippers, and bees.The pair broke up, took to the air, but did not flee. They faced off against each each other like boxers in the sky, and then tumbled back down to the tarmac. One was left maimed, at the waist and unable to fly. Seventh and fourth grade boys, as well as one very much past school age, were fascinated by the spectacle.Hornet above going for the waist hornet below, who is bent double.

These critters build a nest made of wood that looks rather like the Bald-faced Wasp’s (Dolichovespula maculata), but usually inside something, like a tree trunk, rather than suspended from a branch.

I posted some video of these two on my Instagram and called it “Politics.” I’ve been politically aware since the Reagan nightmare. Since then, I’ve marveled at the unequal fight for power in this country between the majority of us and the minority in power. It’s unequal because not only does the minority have the money, but it understands that politics is the struggle for power: as we’re witnessing in their effort to get Kavanaguh on the highest court (in addition to being a pig about women, he’s a slut for corporations/plutocracy and Trumpian authoritarianism and now, like fellow abuser Clarence Thomas, a very angry and vindictive one). Democrats, beholden to those with money as well, have been woefully lacking in fight for decades. But the times radicalize people; you don’t know what you’ve got until they take it away from you. The Democratic Party must be recaptured if it’s to be any hope for the future.

This Used To Be Turf

A meadow, a-roaring with crickets. Just listening was enough to be get through all the terrible noise of the day, the terrifying state of the nation, the unending human assault on the planet’s life. Get thee to a meadow these early autumnal days! Bonus here is that this hillside in Green-Wood Cemetery was reclaimed from turfy grass, a veritable dead zone of lawn.

I want to send a sincerely heartfelt “thank you!” to contributors to Backyard and Beyond’s fundraising effort. I’m astonished and humbled that this was so successful, surpassing our goal. Take a bow gentle, generous readers:

(In reverse order of contribution.)
Two rows of eggs.

Mole Cricket

Jumpin’ creepers! A mole cricket: the European Mole Cricket Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa? iNaturalist seems to think so. Found on the NY/CT border recently.

There is a Northern Mole Cricket (Neocurtilla hexadactyla) found in Massachusetts and, belying its name, further south, but there are no Westchester Co. iNaturalist reports for it. Is this the song that Henry David Thoreau referred to:

“It is the sound associated with the declining year — and recalls the moods of that season. It is so unobtrusive yet universal a sound, so underlying the other sounds which fill the air — the song of birds, rustling of leaves, dry hopping sounds of grasshoppers, etc. — that now in my chamber I can hardly be sure whether I hear it still, it so rings in my ear.”

A crazy blog fundraising idea.

Another crazy idea: Brooklyn Bird Club lecture tonight on stopping the slaughter of birds crossing the Mediterranean.


An Argiope genus spider. There was some iNaturalist/ debate about the specific identity of this beauty, seen this past weekend on the NY/CT border at the home of friends. There were a lot of spiders, and much else. In fact, the family is cataloging lifeforms around the property (1,200+ observations on iNaturalist; hundreds of species), which is blessed with meadow, pond, and woods in short compass. You know what else is great: the kids are in on the safaris. The six-year-old is already a marvelous natural historian, the twin two-year-olds are coming up fast. A couple of neighborhood children joined us as well on Saturday. Readers probably are aware of the thesis of Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods. “Nature-deficit disorder” and “leave no child inside,” and don’t forget the meadows! Sure, sometimes it bites (see yesterday), but can there be any doubt that a million years of evolution and childhood development has some precedent over a couple of decades of digitally influenced brain formation?Fingernail for scale here. I’ve never seen such enormous spider egg cases.


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