Sunday, September 25, 2011
Why would a wasp carry a grasshopper, you might ask? And why is the much larger grasshopper putting up with this? The unfortunate grasshopper is about to become a stored food supply for the wasp's future offspring. Mother wasp has probably already delivered a few paralyzing stings. She will carry the grasshopper to a nice sandy spot, dig a hole, drag the grasshopper underground, lay an egg on it, and then refill the hole. When the egg hatches the newborn wasp larva will be sitting on the delicious grasshopper that its mother caught for it.
It's a Prionyx wasp. They raise their babies on a strict grasshopper-only diet. The drama above occurred last September on a sandy path in the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, New Jersey. This September I saw a lot more of them by a parking lot at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge to Assateague Island, Mayland. The one pictured below was digging a hole in the sandy soil below a row of bushes at the edge of the parking lot. There were about a dozen wasps nearby, all digging holes or dragging grasshoppers from the leaves under the bushes to the sandy strip of waiting holes.