Sunday, July 23, 2023

Summer Wasps


Yesterday I took my camera into the garden to look for interesting insects. I was rewarded with two elegant orange-and-black wasps. This is a female great golden digger wasp, looking every bit a grand as her title. Click to enlarge.

This is a male Ammophila, a member of the thread-waisted wasp family, who seems to give new meaning to the term. Note the little patch of orange on his abdomen.

This one was moving quickly through the leaves of a mountain mint plant. She may have been hunting for food for future offspring. When a female great golden digger wasp is ready to lay eggs, she finds a small insect, stings it to paralyze it, picks it up and carries it away. She has previously prepared some small tunnels in the ground. She deposits the insect in a tunnel, lays an egg on it, seals the entrance and... repeats. When the wasp egg hatches, it feeds on the paralyzed insect. Despite that, and despite its dramatic appearance, this wasp is not aggressive towards humans.

This fellow won't be torturing any small insects, though females of his kind also catch and paralyze insects to provision burrow nests in the ground. Do you see the little spotted insect near the wasp's front feet? It's a tumbling flower beetle, so-called for its evasive maneuvers when disturbed or captured. I don't know if thread-waisted wasps fancy feeding tumbling flower beetles to their children, but I can't help feeling a little relieved on its behalf that it's next to a male thread-waisted wasp.

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