This is an old paper wasp nest that I found in our front garden this morning. Beautifully built.
Tagged With: Wasp
I went out hoping to get a better butterfly picture today. I got a few but they aren’t enough better than yesterday’s picture to justify putting them here. So, here’s a picture of a yellow jacket on a garlic mustard flower.
There were lots of insects enjoying Cathy’s mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) today, including this potter wasp. I’ve narrowed it down to the genus Euodynerus of which there are 19 local species. Beyond that, I need better pictures and different views.
There is a good key to the genus here: http://www.biology.ualberta.ca/bsc/ejournal/bmc_05/key_euodynerus.html. I also found a good Hymenoptera glossary here: http://www.diapriid.org/projects/32/public/ontology/.
I keep thinking I’m done with wasps and bees and then I find a new one (there are thousands, after all). This, I’m pretty sure, is a great golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus). This isn’t the best picture I took in terms of identifying the wasp but I really like this head-on view.
After taking the picture of the lady beetle larva in the woods, I crossed the stream on a fallen tree trunk. I worked my way from there through a fairly dense area of brambles and small trees to the slope that leads to what I call the uplands part of the empty lot. This is about 30 feet higher than the lowlands across the stream and it is mostly clear of trees. It is filled with ragweed and milkweed with a few empty spots that are almost barren, with just bare clay which sometimes holds standing water and other times is baked into a cracked, hard surface. In one of those empty spots, I followed this wasp, which is Cerceris fumipennis, an apoid wasp (Apoidea) in the family Crabronidae. It landed and disappeared into this little hole in the ground. I figured it would eventually come out again so I got down and waited. I was rewarded for my patience when he appeared at the entrance and was able to get a half dozen shots off before he flew off into the distance.
I went out back to see what I could find to photograph this evening. There was a painted lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly on the Buddleia and I got some reasonable but not great pictures of that. Then I noticed this large, yellow and brown wasp on the steps. This is a large wasp, about 2cm in length. Not as big as the eastern cicada killer (Sphecius speciosus) but still a pretty good size. As the common name implies, these are native to Eurasia. They were introduced to eastern North America in the 1800s. They are one of the many wasps to build paper nests out of chewed wood pulp.
The bees and wasps are out in force these days. I spent a little time around the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum) this afternoon and enjoyed the variety of buzzing insects (most of them are basically silent, actually). The most numerous are the bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) and the large but gentle carpenter bees (Xylocopa virginica). The wasps are pretty well represented, though, and today I saw a handful of these katydid wasps (Sphex nudus) as well as some potter wasps (Eumenes fraternus). I got a few photos of that last one, but they weren’t as good as I would have liked. I’ll keep trying.
This potter wasp (Eumenes fraternus) is one of my favorite wasps (doesn’t everyone have favorite wasps?). There’s fairly common around here. While they are particularly drawn to the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum), they are also found regularly on the black-eyed Susans (Rudbekia) and painter’s palette (a.k.a. knotweed, Persicaria virginiana). I think it’s their clean lines that I like. They’re difficult to photograph well and I’m not really happy with this photo, although it’s the best I was able to get. They don’t really stop moving and unless the light is very strong, it’s hard to get both adequate depth of field and a short enough exposure to stop their motion.
There are a few paper wasps that are very difficult to distinguish and some that are impossible without examining them at the microscopic level. A number of them are quite variable, as well, adding to the difficulty. I think this is a northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus) but I’m nowhere near sure. It’s a beautiful creature, whatever it is. This was taken with my 100mm lens with the addition of a 25mm extension tube in bright evening sunlight. As you can see, I was able to get fairly close and I’m pleased by how sharp this turned out. You might also notice the aphids on the underside of the leaf the wasp is on. I took some photos of those, as well, but haven’t identified them yet (beyond the generic “aphid”).
This is a sand wasp, Bicyrtes quadrifasciatus I believe. It’s fairly common although nothing like the western honey bee or the bumble or carpenter bee, but I see them quite a bit on the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum), as this one is. If I go out in the heat of the day, with the sun beating down on the mountain mint, it’s an absolute hive of activity (and I mean that in the most literal sense). There are myriad bees and wasps buzzing around with an occasional skipper sneaking in. The buddleia above has mostly bumble and carpenter bees as well as butterflies. Now and then I spot a true bug of one sort or another. It’s really wonderful, unless of course you are allergic or simply afraid of stinging things. It’s also very hot so I don’t generally stay out too long, but I love it.
The mountain mint is really buzzing these days. The height of summer is really great for seeing bees and wasps and I really enjoy seeing them in the afternoon. The sun beating down it a bit much so I can only take it for short stretches but it’s worth it to see the variety of stinging things buzzing around. This is, I believe, a four-toothed mason wasp (Monobia quadridens). The larvae feed on leaf-rolling caterpillars so are generally considered good to have around. Their sting is something you want to avoid but like most hornets and wasps, if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.
I’m not at all sure what this wasp is but I’m going to guess it’s a Polistes species, possibly P. fuscatus, the northern paper wasp. I like this head-on shot, although I’d like to have a bit more depth of field. The wasps and bees were thick in the mountain mint and buddleia this afternoon. Autumn is arriving, though, and it’s been cooler, so the insects are not quite so nemerous except in the heat of mid-day. I also got a few pictures of a beewolf (Philanthus gibbosus).
It’s peony time here. I love peonies and it’s a little surprising I haven’t planted more than I have. We have a few on the south end of the house that were here when we moved in. This one, planted in our back garden near the fence, is the only other one we have and I planted three of them in 2014. One thing about peonies is they take a while to really get established. Once they do, of course, they are hard to beat. Even a small plant like these, which only produce one or two blooms each, are pretty amazing, though. I really like this one, called ‘Coral Sunset’. I also love the fact that I caught a little potter or mason wasp hovering near it.
From McKee-Beshers we went to Rocklands Farm. We were greeted by Janis who took us to her garden and gave us tomatoes and eggplants. I photographed these two-spotted scoliid wasps (Scolia dubia dubia) on the Eryngium in her garden. There were probably a dozen of them on the small plant with a lot of movement. There were a few other wasps but most were this very distinctive subspecies of blue-winged wasp. We bought burgers and Brussels sprout from the Boxcar Burgers truck and a bottle of wine from Rocklands and enjoyed a warm but beautiful evening sitting by the barn. A nice way to spend a summer evening.