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Carrot Wasp (Family Gasteruptiidae)

The Carrot Wasp adults are usually found eating nectar and pollen on flowers in the carrot family (including Wild Parsnip). The long, arched abdomen is similar to that of an Ichneumon wasp, but CWs have a noticeable neck, and the tibias on its back legs are enlarged. There are 15 species in the genus in North America, five of those in the east, and they look pretty much alike—mostly black with varying orange bands on the gaster.

Organ Pipe Mud Dauber (Family Crabronidae)

The Organ Pipe/Pipe Organ Mud Dauber are smallish wasps with a patent-leather black, purplish wings, and white “ankles” on their back legs. They are not aggressive—males have no stingers, and you really have to man-handle a female to get her to sting. There are about 30 species in the genus across North America (more elsewhere), but the OPMD is found mostly in the eastern U.S.

Pussy Willow Pollinators

People get excited when pussy willows whisper the spring. The BugLady thinks it’s more fun to skulk among the pussy willows when they are actually blooming (the gray, fuzzy “bud” is the future female catkin), ogling the diversity of insects that come to visit. Willows are dioecious (separate house), bearing their male and female flowers on different plants

Wall Watching

The BugLady has been stalking invertebrates that hang out on the east wall of the Field Station lab. The wall is painted cinderblock that warms up in the morning and probably keeps some heat as it gets shaded in the afternoon. Grass grows right up to the edge of the building. The BugLady hypothesizes that bugs can enjoy the residual warmth without getting fried by the sun, because she sees some small critters on the north wall but very few on the bright south wall. She found some familiar faces and some new ones—plant-eaters and an array of carnivores that come to collect the herbivores.

Black and Yellow Mud Dauber (Family Specidae)

The Black and Yellow Mud Dauber is a common, native wasp that occurs in meadows and gardens from Canada to the West Indies and which has hitched a ride from North America to Europe and Australia. BYMDs build nests from mud, while other species of sphecids may nest in vegetation or in abandoned cavities. As each cell nears completion, the wasp hunts for and paralyzes invertebrates (spiders, in the case of the BYMD) to provision the nests.

The Porch at Night

It’s a good thing that the BugLady doesn’t have nearby neighbors (or a Home Owners’ Association) who might be alarmed about someone who turns on the porch light and then creeps around taking pictures of porch critters at midnight.

Giant Ichneumon Wasp (Family Ichneumonidae)

To attract Giant Ichneumon Wasp two ingredients are necessary; first, a dead tree, and second, a distant GIW relative, a primitive wasp called a pigeon horntail. GIW larvae are parasitoids. They eat other insects, slowly, starting with non-essential structures and ending with essential organs, so that the host stays alive until the parasitoid is ready to pupate. In this case, the unfortunate victim is the larva of the pigeon horntail that is developing in a chamber in the rotting wood.

Bugs Without Bios II

The BugLady had a professor years (decades) ago who used to say “Don’t just tell them what it is, tell them ‘What about it?’” Here is the second installment of miscellaneous bugs with brief biographies—insects about whom the BugLady can’t find many “What about it’s.”

Great Black Wasp (Family Sphecidae)

The Great Black Wasp (GBW) is decorated at one end by heavy-duty mandibles that allow her to hang onto her prey and, toward the other end, by a narrow constriction/stalk at the top of a stinger-tipped abdomen. GBWs appear in mid-to-late summer, in fields and meadows throughout the U.S. except the Pacific Northwest. The wasp is also called the Katydid Hunter and Steel-blue Cricket Hunter.

Tiphiid Wasp (Family Tiphiidae)

These lovely Tiphiid wasps sipping nectar on goldenrods and other prairie wildflowers and doing a bit of pollinating on the side. Some species of tiphiids have been imported to combat Japanese beetles and other pest scarabs. The female doesn’t bring food to her egg; she brings her egg to food. When the female wasp locates a grub in the ground, she lays an egg on/near it. Some smaller tiphiids actually crawl underground to accomplish this. Although the adults are vegetarians, their offspring are confirmed carnivores.