Posts Tagged 'wasps'

Cocktail Hour

Eremnophila aureonotataIs this too much John Cheever-John Updike, drunken wasps getting it on? Above are Thread-waisted Wasps (Eremnophila aureonotata) mating on that pollinator-magnet mountain mint (Pycnanthemum). Like many wasps, the adults eat nectar, but feed their larvae flesh. (OK, now we’ve entered Stephen King territory) These provision their young with caterpillars. Scolia dubiaBlue-winged, a.k.a. Digger Wasp (Scolia dubia) with their distinctive yellow dots on red-orange abdomen. These are all over the city; I walked by a swarm in the middle of a front yard in Park Slope recently. The females dig burrows in search of beetle larvae to feed their young; Green June Bugs and invasive Japanese Beetles are favored.

Pollination Nation

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Air Bee and Bee

IMG_8777A local bee motel. There was a wasp checking in, to. This is a rather elaborate one, offering several possibilities for wood- and cavity- nesters. (But don’t forget the ground-nesters!)

The Xerces Society has some helpful hints on building your own to encourage pollinators.

European Paper Wasp

Polistes dominulaPolistes dominula, gathering some boardwalk wood.

Diggers

Scolia dubiaScolia dubiaDigger wasps (Scolia dubia) hide their lights under their dark blue-black wings. Scolia dubia“Blue-winged Wasp” is another common name for them.IMG_3774A bunch of these were looping over a strip of dirt on the edge of First Avenue at 41st, rather industrial ground for natural history, except for the feral cats and Paulownia and Ailanthus trees. But as is so often the case, the barrenness of the urban setting is deceiving. The wasps were hunting for grubs — of Japanese beetles, May and June bugs, etc. — beneath the surface, which they burrow after to sting and lay their eggs on. When not on the hunt for fresh grub meat for the next generation, they gather nectar for themselves, as this example (pics 2 & 3) in Green-Wood.

Sumer is icumen in

Sphecius speciosusI’ve heard a few Dog Day Cicadas (Tibicen) recently, at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and here in Cobble Hill, but it’s still early. In anticipation, the Cicada Killer Wasps (Sphecius speciosus) have begun to emerge. Males are generally seen first; they’re out to claim nesting territory.

I saw my first CKW of the summer on Tuesday. I assumed it was male since it looked so small. Wednesday before the monsoon I saw one in the same place. It really favors this wheel. If you look closely at the rear leg below, there seem to be spurs there at the joint, evidently a characteristic of females. Also, this view nicely shows the two pairs of wings, a defining characteristic of the Hymenoptera.

While scary to some people because of their size, these digger wasps are quite harmless to people.

Paper

Dolichovespula maculataAll that remains of that Bald-faced Hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest on the memorial I photographed in September. Dolichovespula maculataWhile examining the amazing paper the wasps make to cover their comb, I found something elsenesting between the layers. Oops, sorry about that!


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