Category: wasp

The mysterious Nomada electella.  Nomada are nest parasites.  So, as a nest parasite the size of your host, you are going to be rarer than your host.  If your host is rare then you are going to be rarer still.  Nomada electella is very very rare.  So rare its male has never been described in the literature. And so it was until a few years ago when I got to look at specimens from Dyke Marsh in Virginia collected by Edd Barrows.  Dyke Marsh is basically and old dump, gravel operation, struggling marsh wetland natural community, surrounded by high density urban environment on the Virginia side of Washington D.C.  Not a place for rarity.  Yet, there were 100 of these bees, including a nice series of males.  This multiplies the number of known specimens by probably 10.  But what is its host?  Still unknown.  Nothings lept out form the other bees in the traps.  This specimen is yet another one, from Bath County in Virginia collected by Ellison Orcutt whose team finds rare bees everywhere.  Photo by Cole Cheng.      

Cockroaches beware!.  Here is an Evaniid wasp, Ensign Wasp (the abdomen is a flag…get it?), possibly Hyptia harpyoides.  This group parasitizes cockroaches at least our native cockroaches.  Not sure if they find our indoor cockroaches acceptable.  

Cotesia congregata – a little parasite of caterpillars.  

This one is from Karen Kester’s lab in Richmond where she and her gradstudents raise them and discover things about the host (Sphinx moths I believe) parasite relationship.  Photo by Greta Forbes. 

Wicked Wasp Week #9.  Red as the devil, fame and fortune are nothing to this wasp, its sole mission is to hunt soft bodied creatures, pulp them, and feed them to it young.  Leave you babies inside!  Polistes metricus, female, Beltsville, Maryland

Wicked Wasp Week #8.  

Looking unsettled, slightly sprung in the mind, angry at the world and ready to raid a nearby village…Polistes exclamans, female, Beltsville, Maryland, Head.  A social wasp queen from early spring 2013.

Wicked Wasp Week #7.  I believe this to be a wasp in the Genus Ectemnius, but I don’t know for sure as I just am not a wasp expert.  This one was collected in the Neck District of Talbot County Maryland a few weeks ago.  Photo by Wayne Boo.

Wicked Wasp Week #6. Zanysson – A crabronid wasp. Most of the stinging wasps are fairly badass in aspect, to use a technical term. This one certainly is worthy of a tattoo on someone’s chest and was collected by Merle Shepherd from Spring Island along the coast of South Carolina. The group as a whole are cleptoparasites of other Crabronid wasps.

Wicked Wasp Week.  All week, All wasps.  Witchy.  Muttilids.  Ah, here is one, such a group you would not want to meet if they were 10 feet tall.  Check out the tarsal comb on this one from Great Basin National Park in Utah….perhaps used to pick the pieces of its victims out of its teeth.

This is picture 9 from a 12 picture invited series by Matt Buffington (matt.buffington@usda.gov) at the USDA Parastitic Hymentoptera group using specimens from the U.S. Natural History Museum Smithsonian. Matt uses a system very similar to ours to photograph and stack this super tiny wasp. Looking for the missing link between gall wasps and other cynipoids?  Look no further than Parnips nigripes!  This wasp parasitizes Barbotinia gall wasps that gall Papaver in the Mediterranean; how’s that for being super-specific?  Well, this wasp also has many morphological features of gall wasps, so we consider this species to ‘bridge’ the entomophagous figitid wasps with the phytophagous cynipid wasps!

This is picture 8 from a 12 picture invited series by Matt Buffington (matt.buffington@usda.gov) at the USDA Parastitic Hymentoptera group using specimens from the U.S. Natural History Museum Smithsonian. Matt uses a system very similar to ours to photograph and stack this super tiny wasp. The liopterid genus Paramblynotus represents a large radiation of species, especially in the Paleotropical Region.  This wasp, taken in the TIGER project in Thailand, is one of several undescribed species from the region.