Commonly known as cuckoo wasps or emerald wasps, the hymenopteran family Chrysididae is a very large cosmopolitan group of parasitoid or kleptoparasitic wasps, often highly sculptured, with brilliantly colored metallic-like bodies.
The name “potter wasp” derives from the shape of the mud nests built by Eumenes species wasps and similar genera.
Eggs are attached to the top inner surface of the cell before the nest is provisioned with food (stung, paralysed caterpillars and beetle larvae) and sealed. The hatched wasp grubs feed on these living prey.
This nest was about 10mm round and attached to the underside of a leaf.
Poking around a dead tree turned up a dozen Black and Yellow Paper Wasps, Polistes dominulus, possibly sheltering under the bark from the cold night previously (and a large skink huddled with them, oddly, although he fled).
Another possibility was that they’ve been stylopised - infected with a strepsipteran parasite, in this case Xenos vesparum - who has forced them all to gather where the parasites can then meet and breed. See this recent article on the discovery
Some type of parasitic wasp, climbing over a herd of aphids on a thistle, antennae down and tapping as she looks for prey.
She’s not interested in the aphids though, they’re way too small, don’t know what her host is, but she looks vaguely like Hyposoter ebeninus or summat of that ilk, which would peg her as a hunter of caterpillars.
More arthropodian treasures of Steigerwald, 12 August 2016: another cuckoo wasp, a pentatomoid nymph, a tree cricket, and a strangely deflated-looking goldenrod crab spider. Check out the stretch marks on her abdomen!
I’ve been recently fascinated with the diversity of tiny insect life that has been thriving in my garden.
Firstly is the bees, super helpful garden pollinators, I noticed at least four different Hymenopterans in my garden, including a fascinating wasp that I never managed to capture a picture of. And they loved the hyssop, there were more than twenty bees buzzing around.
There’s also a wide assortment of beetles (Coleoptera) and true bugs (Hemiptera) crawling around, including those damned Japanese Beetles.
Including, what I think is Assassin bug nymphs (?) crawling over my spent snapdragons
Also caught some Cabbage Moths (Lepidoptera) in the act. As well as some other fun winged friends.
And last but not least, my favorite little Homopterans (leaf hoppers!)
Overall, some bugs are bad, some are beneficial and all fulfill a role within your garden ecosystem. A greater diversity of insects is a sign that your garden is thriving. Now if only I could find some more mantids.
Commonly known as cuckoo wasps or emerald wasps, the hymenopteran family Chrysididae is a very large cosmopolitan group (over 3000 described species) of parasitoid or kleptoparasitic wasps.They have the tendency to curl into a defensive ball when attacked by a potential host. Photos by Gerald Yuvallos and Martin Heigan.
Provespa is a lesser known genus of Vespidae, made up of a group of nocturnal wasps from Southeast Asia.
True to their name, they congregate in large numbers at the MV night lamp. Many of them take advantage of the smorgasbord of delights on offer and dismember moths at will (I have to watch for approaching bandits when trying to photograph a moth subject I like). When not marauding, they usually end up forming tight intimate clumps around the sheet. There is a lot of mutual ‘grooming’ and tactile communication that goes on….