Posts Tagged 'wasps'

Sassy!

A venerable sassafras (Sassafras albidum) in Green-Wood. May be the state record holder for tallest: 69′ in 2016. 138″ in diameter at 4.5′ height.
More interestingly, at least to me, is the question of age. Does this pre-date the establishment of the cemetery in 1838? If not it must come close.
Sprouting adjacent. Sassafras is a clonal organism.
You would be correct in your supposition that this magnificent bark is habitat. Just think of all the life forms that have lived upon and beneath it!
I was lucky enough to see this in my orbit of the tree. A piece of bark over a foot long had fallen off and on the inside was this Eumenes wasp mud pot nest.

Stay tuned for more sassafras tomorrow. Yes, more!

Unwrapped

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a large Bald-faced Hornet nest being whipped around by the wind way up a tree overlooking the Dell Water. More recently, I looked up and saw nothing.
A clump of hornet paper stuck on a bush was my first clue. I scanned the ground up the slope with greater care.
Ah-ha! Stripped of the surrounding layers of paper, here were four levels of paper comb.
Remains of larval hornets were scattered about.
Dead worker, dead larva, live fly, and a pretty active ant. Temps were in the 40s.
Looking closely at the paper, you can see the wood fibers that make it up.

These incredible constructions are only built for one season. Only the queen over-winters. The nests rarely survive the winter. This one came crashing down. But this one was collected. Flatbush Gardener removed this one from a neighbor’s shrub, with permission from the neighbor. This was one of the biggest I’ve seen. (Party lighting here, sorry.) Notably in a shrub instead of way up in a tree. I’ve seen them in young street trees, too, barely above eye-level. There are a good number of these nests in Brooklyn, but the hornets themselves are a bit elusive. I mean, they are obviously all over, but you don’t see them everyday.

11th Month Insecta

There are still a few insects in the cold.
On Friday, this wasp, bumble bee, and fly were active. There were other flies about, and other impossible-to-photograph diptera, and a lovely leaf-hopper or two.
Some kind of gall on a crab apple. Exit hole visible.
Remember last January when I found a large cocoon that I thought belonged to a Polyphemus moth? On Friday, at the same willow oak, I found another.

Paper wasp paper.
Saturday was much colder, but this Fall Armyworm was on the march.
Also on that cold and blustery Saturday, we found three different harvestmen, each one on lichen or moss. Of course, we were looking at lichen and moss, so…

Late Insecta

Not a single bee, wasp, or butterfly spotted yesterday in Green-Wood during lunch. There was a suggestion or two of fly, and at least one spider. The first real day of winter, then, bug-wise.

Last weekend, though, these stragglers were spotted:
Differential Grasshopper, a big one.
One of the confusing Syrphid flies.
Clouded Sulphur.
Vinegar fly.
Variegated Fritillary.
Large Yellow Ant, according to iNaturalist. Reproductive ants are winged, the better to spread the genes, and the wasp-ant similarity really comes through.
Speaking of wasps… there are so many species! This may be a member of the Square-headed Wasp subfamily.

In the Queen’s Chamber

Let this be a lesson to me. I turned over a rotten old log that was about two feet long and a quarter of that in diameter. It came apart in three pieces. This stirred up this Bald-Faced Hornet, all covered in saw dust. Must be a queen in her over-wintering chamber.

A thousand pardons, Your Majesty! I put the wood back together after she resettled in her hollow.

Elsewhere that same Saturday, this nearly eye-level nest was still active.

Bald-Faced Washing

Bald-faced Hornet licking the stonework. Getting salts and minerals?
Also, licking forelegs to groom antennae. Like a cat!
The grooming wasp was spotted Saturday in the sun. This nest was seen Sunday, with at least one wasp hanging around still.

Cryptus

One of two similar ichneumon wasps I saw yesterday around the trunks of very large trees. I’ve never seen this species before. This is what keeps me looking.
I think she’s a Cryptus. Note the long, harpoon-like ovipositor. She is looking for moth larvae to jab her eggs into. She kept moving, but hardly flew. Wings constantly flicking. I took dozens of pictures to get these passable ones.
There are a lot of ichneumon wasp species out there. This one was easy to narrow down to genus because of that orange abdomen.
Cryptus albitarsis, White-footed Cryptus Wasp, perhaps. That’s the most common species. The “feet” do look pretty pale in some of these images.

Last licks in before the cold…


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