Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thread-waist Wasp

Thread-waist wasp - Eremnophila aureonotata - REK
Silver-white shoulder patches
I watched this dainty insect flying slowly around at knee height for some time.  Finally it got tired of looking around and landed on the deck to rest. The long thin stalked abdomen put it in the Sphecidae family of Thread-waist wasps.  The silver-white patches on the side of the thorax is diagnostic of the genus Eremnophilia. and Eremnophila aureonotata is the only species north of Mexico.

Satellite fly - Patrick Coin
This species is commonly found in old fields near woodlands.  Adults feed on nectar while the larvae are fed moth and skipper caterpillars.  The female digs a burrow, places an egg in it and delivers a large caterpillar, a long term provision.  Some satellite flies commonly follow them, sneaking in to lay their eggs on the caterpillar.

Capturing a Notodontidae Moth caterpillar - Benny Mazur CC
I was fortunate this specimen landed on our deck for pictures.  Many of the online photographs are of mating couples on large flower heads such as Queen Anne's Lace, both slowing them down and getting them at camera height.  Rather than nibbling on her ear, the male grasps the female's neck with his mandibles and hangs on.

"This won't hurt much" - Grasping the female's neck -  Tam Stewart