Posts Tagged 'wasps'

These Eyes

From a distance, I thought this was a wasp. Look at that patterning!But then, those eyes…This is a wasp-mimicking fly of the Spilomyia genus, perhaps S. longicornis.Now here’s a bee, one of the Agapostemon sweat bees. Note how the eyes are on the side of the animal. Flies have front-facing eyes that often meet near the middle. In this image you can also see the two pairs of wings that bees and the other Hymenoptera (wasps, reproductive ants) have. Flies, Diptera, have only two wings.

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. Bugguide.net 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 bugguide.net 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.

Blue-winged Wasp

Putting a little extra sting into your Sunday!

This handsome creature is a Blue-winged or Digger wasp (Scolia dubia). The paired yellow spots on the reddish orange abdomen are distinctive for identifying this species, at least around here (as far as I know).

“Life style”? They dig into the ground in search of larvae of June beetles and the invasive Japanese beetle. These are parasitized for the wasp’s young. Like a lot of our wasps, the adults themselves eat nectar.

This spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata) seems to do a great job of tagging pollinators with a load on pollen on the thorax. Bees and wasps really have to get underneath an overhanging petal to reach the nectar. I’ve never seen so many dusty wasps (at least three species) as I have on these flowers, which are among the plantings of the new Green-Wood native hillside. A very active little animal. Impossible to get a good full-on photo this time.

Wasp Tunnels

Of course, the giant wasps are going to get your attention, but the fresh dirt is also a good sign.I’ve seen Cicada Killer Wasps dig into the bare, hard-packed dirt of tree pits, but I’m guessing a gentle, grassy slope is more favorable.Sphecius speciosus excavate long tunnels, which they then provision with paralyzed cicadas. (How the hell do they get a cicada?) An egg is laid on the cicada; the wasp larva eats the cicada and pupates over winter. They’ll emerge next summer. Generations show site fidelity. This small bank in Green-Wood has been active for a couple of years at least. There’s a steeper slope in Prospect that has long been busy with these big wasps. Wherever you have cicadas, you’ll find these wasps, including in street pits and people’s gardens. (The Flatbush Gardener has five locations on his block, including his yard.)

This particular female seemed more territorial than usual. She got in our faces eight feet away from this hole. We moved along.

Sphex ichneumoneus

What a gorgeous wasp. Feeding on Monarda punctata, whose flowers are rather attractive, too.
Great Golden Sand-digger. As the common name suggests, they nest in solitary holes in the ground. Adults feed on nectar. The female provisions her young in these sandy nest caves with paralyzed Orthoptera: crickets, katydids, grasshoppers.The back of the thorax is hairy, too, something I’ve never noticed before.

This wasp is found from Canada down to South America. Here’s an abstract on nest site selection.

More reflections on Europe’s (and the world’s) loss of insect life.
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“…today any liberalism which is not also radicalism is irrelevant and doomed.” John Dewey said that in the 1930s. His view of democracy, which he argued was only as strong as the people supporting it, is as timely as ever.

This Used To Be Lawn

“Now it’s all covered in flowers.”And grasses. Good riddance! This hillside in Green-Wood, near the 5th Avenue entrance, has been converted into meadow. From turf, fertilizer- and chemical- warfare dependent turf, nasty turf, to this riot of life. Yes, it’s “messy,” gloriously so! It’s only a tiny portion of the cemetery, of course. Too many people still want sterility around their dead, on the theory, I guess, that death is best for the dead?I hope that when they see this, pulsing with life, they’ll start thinking about remembering their loved ones with thoughts of life, of the future.

Great Golden Sand-digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus) here on Spotted Beebalm Monarda punctata, a plant a-riot right now with pollinators. Some adult wasps, like this one, eat nectar.

Note, by the way, how heavily this Golden Sand-digger is pollen-dusted. Most wasps are hairless, or nearly so, but this species has golden hairs on the thorax.

City Bounty





(Not nearly enough, of course.)


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