• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • Mike Haasl
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • John F Dean
  • Rob Lineberger
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Ash Jackson
  • Jordan Holland

A wasp is not a wasp is not a wasp

 
pollinator
Posts: 146
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada -- Zone 5a
59
cat trees books cooking bee writing
  • Likes 12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a Great Black Wasp:


I had never seen one in our yard before this summer. When you first see it, you're a bit shocked because it's so big--about an inch and a half long. It's black, with shimmery navy wings that shine blue in the sun. They probably look a little nerve-wracking to many people, but they also look somewhat majestic.

I found a couple on our milkweed (the swamp milkweed, not the common milkweed) once it was blooming. They can't get enough... they're always there! Now that the boneset is in bloom, I see the great black wasps there as well.

We had a bit of a grasshopper explosion this year. So I identify these wasps and look them up, and what do I find out? They sting grasshoppers and feed them to their young. So they are helping me balance nature here. The adults feed on flowers.

These are solitary wasps, like our solitary bees. They can sting, but they are not likely to sting humans unless you're really trying to upset them. They're a type of digger wasp that makes long tunnels under the soil to lay eggs and drag prey down there for their young to feed off of.

I found out that they sometimes use a tool, like a tiny stick or the end of a leaf! They use it to vibrate the soil to dig, like a tiny jackhammer. And there's another blow to the "only humans use tools" that many of us were taught when we were young.

They can be found across North America. If you see them, be happy! They're your allies in keeping some of the pestier pests in balance. I get very close to watch them, like a couple feet away, and they don't seem too bothered. If they get bothered, I back up. Let's get the word out that many wasps are not aggressive, and really, are our friends.

About the title I chose... not that many years ago, I might have thought one wasp was just like another. Or maybe I even thought that "wasp" was just one kind of thing. I'm learning not to put creatures in boxes like that!

 
pollinator
Posts: 328
Location: the mountains of western nc
80
forest garden trees foraging chicken food preservation cooking wood heat homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
looks a bit like a pompilid wasp. If you see them doing a rhythmic flicking of the wings while walking on things, that's a good sign it's a pompilid. interestingly, pompilids are frequently spider-hunters, so they may be eating members of the garden patrol that you'd like to keep around...still, cool wasps that are to my knowledge never aggressive toward people.
 
Heidi Schmidt
pollinator
Posts: 146
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada -- Zone 5a
59
cat trees books cooking bee writing
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

greg mosser wrote:looks a bit like a pompilid wasp. If you see them doing a rhythmic flicking of the wings while walking on things, that's a good sign it's a pompilid. interestingly, pompilids are frequently spider-hunters, so they may be eating members of the garden patrol that you'd like to keep around...still, cool wasps that are to my knowledge never aggressive toward people.



Thanks for the extra information! There are so many cool wasps. To clarify, the picture above was not taken by me--I wasn't able to get a decent picture. But I think the blue wings on "my" wasps were a good identification feature. I'll watch and see if they do a rhythmic flicking. Mine never settle down much, always flitting around the flowers. That's why I can't get a good picture.

You're right, I do hope they're not nabbing spiders, but I'm hoping that nature finds a good balance for itself here over time. I have to say, the grasshopper population already seems down.... not that I've done a population count, but it just feels slightly better. :)
 
gardener
Posts: 1961
Location: Zone 7b/8a Temperate Humid Subtropical, Eastern NC, US
746
forest garden fish fungi trees foraging earthworks food preservation cooking bee woodworking homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wasps have recently become one of my favorite insects, they're so helpful and amazing!

The majority of wasps that I've seen lately seem to be the solitary and generally non aggressive kind also. I used to be a little nervous whenever I saw wasps, now I get excited and curious!
 
Heidi Schmidt
pollinator
Posts: 146
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada -- Zone 5a
59
cat trees books cooking bee writing
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Steve Thorn wrote:Wasps have recently become one of my favorite insects, they're so helpful and amazing!

The majority of wasps that I've seen lately seem to be the solitary and generally non aggressive kind also. I used to be a little nervous whenever I saw wasps, now I get excited and curious!


Me too!!
 
master gardener
Posts: 2133
Location: southern Illinois.
527
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Odd. I was recently clearing some brush and was stung on my forearm by a black wasp.  No doubt I was near its home.  The odd part is that I have not been stung by one in years,  and my arm swelled for 4 days ......which also never happens.
 
Heidi Schmidt
pollinator
Posts: 146
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada -- Zone 5a
59
cat trees books cooking bee writing
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

John F Dean wrote:Odd. I was recently clearing some brush and was stung on my forearm by a black wasp.  No doubt I was near its home.  The odd part is that I have not been stung by one in years,  and my arm swelled for 4 days ......which also never happens.



Yikes--that doesn't sound fun.

Great black wasps are certainly capable of stinging. But there are others that are much more likely to. I think the Bald Face Hornet is a black wasp that may be somewhat more likely to sting.
 
John F Dean
master gardener
Posts: 2133
Location: southern Illinois.
527
goat cat dog chicken composting toilet food preservation bee solar wood heat homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It could have been something out of the norm.   I just saw a black form flying away.
 
pollinator
Posts: 171
Location: Missouri. USA. Zone 6b
109
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I spotted this interesting wasp last week: a female ichneumon wasp. Look at the long and slender ovipositor!
ichneumen-wasp.JPG
Ichneumon wasp on dill
Ichneumon wasp on dill
 
pollinator
Posts: 360
Location: Southern Germany
175
kids books urban chicken cooking food preservation fiber arts bee
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In Germany we have different types of wasps, but also very fascinating.

Apart from the type that annoys you when you are eating outside the most common is the Polistes (umbrella wasps). They nest in the frame of our rooftop windows (basically our bedroom) every year, one hive is only two dozens individuals or so and they are relaxed.

Last week I got stung after a lost wasp was caught up in my blanket (it did hurt quite a bit) - the hive is attached only with a little stem and the stem broke from the window frame in a storm.
For several days the nest was laying on the outside of the inclined windowpane, the poor wasps trying to continue feeding their brood.
But then one morning a couple of days ago a magpie found the little hive and flew away with it, leaving some wasps without a home apparently.

Anyway, I like to observe them on umbilliferous plants, and I learned something very interesting a week ago:
These wasps get parasitoids (parasites live along with their hosts, parasitoids kill them in the end). A tiny fly (Xenos vesparum) lays eggs into the joints of the segments of the wasps body. Tiny larvae will develop and show as bumps. They "control" their hosts to abandon the hive and go solitary and mate with other infected wasps, feeding on the body of the doomed wasp. They are then called zombie wasps.

Somebody on a FB group showed a picture of a wasp with multiple bumps, on the same day I found a wasp in the garden with one bump. I keep seeing her because the bump is characteristic. I have a blurred picture somewhere, I will try to find and upload. It is really creepy if you read the wikipedia article.

Edit: Found the photo. If you look close, you can see the little bump on the right side on the second lowest segment.
And here is the link to the English wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenos_vesparum (the parasited wasps are even forced to have zombie sex...)

Feldwese_Parasitoid.jpg
[Thumbnail for Feldwese_Parasitoid.jpg]
 
Posts: 23
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator


I've found this wasps hive inside my wooden compost bin...

Don't know if I should leave them there or not.
So far I got stung once on my finger, while adding waste the bin, but it wasn't so bad.
 
And now I present magical permaculture hypno cards. The idea is to give them to people that think all your permaculture babble is crazy talk. And be amazed as they apologize for the past derision, and beg you for your permaculture wisdom. If only there were some sort of consumer based event coming where you could have an excuse to slip them a deck ... richsoil.com/cards
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic