Life's Little Moments

By dbifulco

With a whiff of katydid on her breath...

The little colony of Great Golden Digger Wasps have apparently finished excavating their nests beside our walkway.  And today, the ladies went hunting...  Over the last 4 summers I've had the opportunity to observe these gentle giant wasps up close and have learned a lot about their behavior.  So when I went out today and found no activity around the nest holes, I suspected that they'd gone hunting.  So I did what any good blipper would do - I positioned myself on the walkway about a foot from the entrance of several of the nests and waited.  (I should mention that it was already in the nigh 80's at the time and those pavers on the walkway were hot!)  Soon enough, the first one showed up with a smallish katydid, followed quickly by several others.

Finally, this one came along with a different katydid, one I've not seen in our yard before, a Roesel's Katydid.  Now, if you are faint of heart, you should probably stop reading at this point...

The wasp stings her prey to paralyze it.  She then brings it to her nest hole, leaving it outside while she goes into the hole to make sure all is ready.  Out she comes and drags her prey (usually headfirst) into the hole.  Inside the hole are small nest compartments where one katydid (or cricket) goes.  The Digger then lays a single egg in her still-alive prey.  The egg hatches into a larvae which then feeds on the katydid until it is fully developed.  This year's Diggers will stay in the ground until nest summer when they will emerge to start all over again.

An interesting little factoid - this is one of the only insects that is frequently pursued by birds looking to steal the prey.  The bird will chase the wasp until she drops her catch, then swoop down and take it for themselves.  

Once this girl is done making her family, she'll feed on nectar for a month or so before dying.  

Two juvenile Carolina Wrens showed up this morning while I was outside, being cuter than cute.  While I was attempting to cool off under our deck gazebo, one came and landed right next to me before zipping off to inspect the basil.

Thanks to Nickimags888  for hosting TinyTuesday this month.  And although this isn't exactly a tiny wasp, I think it still qualifies in the spirit of macro!

A nice visit with cousins and MIL yesterday, although MIL was unusually lethargic.  We are keeping an eye on her.


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