Thursday, August 11, 2011

Celebrating Insect Diversity Week: Wasps!

   Wasps are one of the most feared members of the insect world. They can sting us just like bees, but they're skinny and menacing, whereas bees are plump and slow and make honey. It's silly really, in fact many don't sting at all and they're no more of a threat to us humans than any of the other insects. What most people don't realize is many of them feed on nectar and are wonderful pollinators. Just like bees, many have incredibly sophisticated social skills, next time you find a paper wasp nest watch them for a little while and notice their subtle communication maneuvers.

Here's a sampling of wasps we've seen recently:

 Digger Wasp (Scolia dubia)

 Eremnophila aureonotata, the only species in its genus in North America, no common name known

Double Banded Scoliid (Scolia bicinta) needs a more creative name

Beewolf (Philanthus sp.) not Beowolf

Beewolf (Philanthus sp.)

No mention of wasps would be complete without the Ichneumon Wasp

This is a video taken with Jeff's iPhone of a bunch of wasps on some Rudbeckia over at Dean, they seem to really love this plant, along with the bees. Not the greatest video quality, but hopefully you get the idea.


  1. The Ichneumon Wasp is amazing! I am not scared of wasps because they have never stung me. Yellow jackets (is that a type of wasp?) do scare me because I have been stung too many times!

  2. Ellen,

    The Ichneumon is definitely amazing and a treat to see. Yellow Jackets are in the wasp family and I have to admit scare me a little too. Although Bald Faced Hornets can be scary, they hunt Yellow Jackets (we've even witnessed it) and are less aggressive. Last year we had a Hornets nest in the yard, but no Yellow Jackets. This year- no hornets, but two Yellow Jacket nests.

  3. Great wasp photos Julie.

    I'm glad you've IDed the Eremnophila. I have some photos of these but have not taken the time to do so. They like to nectar on my Rattlesnake Master.


  4. Heather,

    Thanks! Those wasps are quite numerous here, between our home, Dean, and along the river. I was surprised they don't have a common name. They love our rudbeckia and the non-native mint growing along the river.

  5. At last!!! Something that seems to appreciate a NATIVE plant...and the bees, wasps, flies, ants, and the occasional butterfly swarm around it all day long:)