Posts Tagged 'wasps'

Webworm Days

Fall Webworm caterpillars have been everywhere. This one was on a raised bed on the sidewalk next to the local high school last week, with barely a tree in sight.
I don’t even remember where this was, back in July.
Here’s yet another, along the 5th Avenue Green-Wood fence. Uh-oh!

You see, everybody knows the prolific caterpillars are out and about. Dozens of parasite species attack Fall Webworm, which provide a lot of meat. This one is an ichneumon wasp. I’m not sure what her strategy is because I can’t get her down to species level. She’s a member of the tribe Gravenhorstiini of the family Ichneumonidae.
But that strategy ain’t good, at least according to the caterpillars. The wasp, of course, has another agenda.
Those are, in fact, caterpillar droppings. These colonies are messy.
Here’s more. These are cocoons of a Meteorus genus wasp. They hang from rather crinkly silk under the webworm nests. Both look like they have exit holes at the base. According to Eisemen and Charney, if the exit whole is irregular and on the side, it’s the work of another wasp who parasitizes the parasite.

Location (3)

Still at Shawangunk. There’s one of those perma-porta-potties, thick with Drain Flies, and an observation gazebo. Mud-daubers and paper wasps appreciate the dry, sheltered spot.

Seemed like everywhere you looked up there were old or current Polistes nests.
There are… a number species of paper wasps in the Polistes genus in the northeast; 11 by one count, 21 by another, I assume it’s a matter of the range of the “northeast”. Anyway, this maybe P. fuscatus, the Northern or Dark Paper Wasp. Says Bugguide.net: “the separation of P. fuscatus from related species remains the greatest taxonomic problem of the northeastern Vespidae fauna.” Interestingly, the very yellow and black European Paper Wasp (P. dominula), which is all over NYC, is also in this genus.

Started seeing these dark ones in late August in Brooklyn, too. After a steady diet of P. dominula all summer, they’re a welcome sight.
Speaking of diet, this one has some food. I gathered there was a nest down there.

So many wasps! There was a time I would have avoided them all. Yikes! But they’re just going about their business, and I’m just quietly photographing them, and nobody is bothered.

An Ecosystem

On Monday, we started with cicadas. I’ve been trying to get a photo of a Cicada-killer Wasp with her six mitts on a cicada. Thrice now laden-wasps have zipped by me, white underside of their prey visible, but I haven’t been quick enough with the camera. ONce they land, the wasps are quite quick into their nests.
And here’s why, maybe. A Northern Mockingbird beat me to the scene! Almost as soon as the wasp landed her prey at her nest, this bird flew in and grabbed it.
Flying off to a nearby tree, the bird then proceeded to break the bank, or smash the exoskeleton of the cicada. There was much jabbing to get to the meat within.
The bird ate most of this morsel.
And took the rest to this one’s sibling, who was further up in the tree and unseen. But not unheard.

Under the Lilac Bush

Past blooming, this Syringa (lilac) is a bit of a mess, esthetically-speaking: shrubby, mildewy, gnarly, clumpy with old fruit. But is it ever jumping as habitat! (Huge lesson here: a garden is rarely habitat.)
For one thing, the shrubbery was full of wasps.
There was a mud-daubber.
A White-faced Hornet.
A couple of European Paper Wasps.
There were flies, too. But mostly there were Cicada-killers. I counted seven at one point, but think there were probably more coming and going.
Female on the left, male on the right.
I witnessed two fights, where the wrestling wasps tumbled out of the tree together into the grass below.
What was going on? Sap. The wasps were lapping up sap from the tree.
And they weren’t the only things tapping the well…

More Wasps

This Cicada-killer Wasp was emerging from her nest. She had just deposited a paralyzed cicada inside and, presumably since this is what they do, laid an egg on the cicada. I tried to get a photo of her carrying her progeny-to-be’s food inside, but she was too fast for me. I waited for about fifteen minutes to see is she would return with another cicada. Not on my watch. I could hear three cicadas in surrounding trees.
About ten feet away, on the road, this one patrolled the entire time, often perching, occasionally tangling with another passing by.
Elsewhere in Green-Wood: the lower nest here (the dirt slide is more than a foot long) has been here since at least July 28. Besides the second nest seen here, there were four others in this area. Most were on the flats above this slope.
This is that same lower-on-the-slope nest seen in the two-shot. It poured the afternoon before this picture. There has already been some maintenance.

And one more nest appeared this weekend.
This is some sexual dimorphism, isn’t it? Female on the left, male on the right.

Remember, it’s the larval form that eats the cicada. The adults eat very little, says bugguide. I have seen them taking nectar at flowers before. Recently I hit the mother (and father) lode of feeding for these large wasps. Stay tuned.

Wasps II

These are roughly in size order:Great Black Wasp. These pictures do not convey the sheer giganticness of this species. They are big and fast, really moving between flowers. They hunt katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers for their young.The Great Golden Digger Wasp. Crickets, katydids, grasshoppers, beware.European Paper Wasp. Know them by their red/orange antenna. I’ve seen them take down Monarch caterpillars and feast on the adult butterflies, too. Black and Yellow Mud-dauber. Also known as Yellow-legged Mud-dauber. Spider-hunter.Two different individuals in separate places. Blue Mud-dauber or Steel-blue Cricket Hunter? There sure are a lot of these things… still working on figuring out this one.

Wasp Ascendency

Cicada-killer, whose name speaks for itself. A husky wasp that provisions its young with paralyzed cicadas, so really it’s the larva who kill the cicadas…Unknown. Possibly one of the Grass-carrying wasps of the genus Isodontia.Another Isodontia, possibly. Members of this genus use grass in the construction of their nests and prey on crickets and other Orthoptera.Humped Beewolf (Philanthus gibbosus), a bee predator.Unknown.Four-banded Stink Bug Hunter Wasp (Bicyrtes quadrifasciatus). I didn’t know there were stink bug hunter wasps.One of the Ichneumonn wasps. Says bugguide.net: “Ichneumonids are notoriously hard to identify: aside from the sheer number of species, there are numerous cases of distant relatives that appear almost identical. Any identification based solely on comparing images should be treated as suspect unless an expert has said there are no lookalikes for the species or group in question.” Note those leaf galls. Is this wasp an inquiline, a species that takes over other species’ galls for itself? By the way, the parasites themselves may be parasitized by other species.Ah, the old Four-toothed Mason Wasp (Monobia quadridens), with Carpenter Bee for scale. This big one hunts caterpillars for its young.

All the wasps on the blog. But wait! Tomorrow there will be a whole series of other wasps lately seen…


Share

Bookmark and Share

Join 589 other followers

Twitter

Nature Blog Network

Archives