Posts Tagged 'wasps'

Wasps and Caterpillars

This Euodynerus hidalgo wasp was digging into this old rudbeckia (or maybe it’s a coreopsis).
For almost nine minutes.
This European Tube Wasp (Ancistrocerus gazella) seemed interested.
Caterpillar! From deep inside the flower. I think it’s Homoeosoma genus.
The Tube Wasp did not steal this prize.
The wasp flew her prey off to her nest, where it will feed her young.

Several minutes earlier, in the same patch, an earlier extraction of a caterpillar. Could be the same female wasp. I don’t know how many caterpillars she needs to provision her nest, but up to twenty get stuffed into a Tube Wasp’s.
Same patch, same time period: caterpillar crawling up flower stem and sliding into what seemed like a pre-existing hole in the flower. A future moth…or wasp food?

Discovery Week IV

An Eumeninae, one of the potter and mason wasps. Taking a break to clean itself, including its antennae.
There are some very similar-looking wasps in this subfamily. This one has been identified on iNaturalist as Parancistrocerus leionotus, a species with no common name. Genus Stenodynerus has some near-look-alikes.

There are 110 species world-wide in the Parancistrocerus genus, according to the Catalog of Life. According to, “This species nests in small crevices in rocks (or concrete) unlike most other species of the genus that nest in borings in wood.”

Discovery Week II

Look at those rear legs! It’s like they banded this one. Which would be a feat, since these are rather small insects.
This is the Common Hoover Fly Parasitoid Wasp (Diplazon laetatorius).
A member of the wide and wonderful world of Ichneumonidae, the ichneumon wasps, this one, as its name tells you, parasitizes hover fly larvae. Is that what it is doing here?
I don’t know what this tiny one is, but what she’s doing is laying her eggs in an old coreopsis with her body-length ovipositor. Is she searching for something to parasitize down there? Note the pollen on her ovipositor.

A couple of other Ichneumonidae seen recently, species unknown:

Monday Galls

Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres
At the tips of a young oak, small round nestled in filamenty nests. Galls (not Gauls, pace Casesar) with exit holes. Big question in the wonderful world of galls is: what emerged, the gall inducer or the inquiline (parasite)?

Not just on the bud tips.

Possibly something in the Andricus gall wasp genus. This is a large genus. As I understand it, each species makes a unique gall. These tiny wasps stimulate the tree by chemical commands and the tree grows a gall in response. The tree is being hijacked, but not really damaged (?).

But wait! I’d originally thought this tree was a red oak but could it be be a bur oak? Will have to double check this.

If it’s a bur, then Andricus quercusfrondosus sounds like a possibility. This source notes that this species creates autumnal growths for the the agamic or asexual generation. Yes, gall wasps, which were once all called gall flies, alternate an asexual generation and a sexual generation. According to the cited piece, the agamic or sexual generation isn’t known for this species.

More complications: found a similar if not same gall on a definite red oak, which will be the subject of another day.

To summarize: galls are complicated.


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!


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.


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