08.07.2015 More backyard bugography

First of all, this is not a bug by definition.  It’s a Great Golden Digger Wasp-Sphex ichneumoneus and fairly large…about an inch long.  But it’s a gentle giant in terms of aggression towards humans and of no threat whatsoever to us.

Great-Golden-Digger-Wasp-2-080615-700WebThe female will dig burrows, bury them temporarily and then start finding small insects which she will sting to paralyze and then carry them to the burrows.  Once in the burrows, she will lay a single egg on each and bury the hole again, this time for good until the young hatches and feeds on the living food supply provided by the stung insect.

Great-Golden-Digger-Wasp-3-080615-700WebIn these shots, the wasp is feeding on my boneset plants.  The first time I saw one was on the milkweed flowers in my front yard back in June.  I saw it flying over the flowers from across the yard and mistook it for a hummingbird.  They really are not quite that large, but still quite big for an insect and the largest of the wasps I have seen to date…not that I am an expert.

Great-Golden-Digger-Wasp-1-080615-700WebI know the idea of a wasp will turn some, maybe most, folks off.  But the more familiar one gets with these and many other insects, the more beautiful and less threatening they become.  I love the coloration of this species.

About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Closeup Photography, Insect Behavior, Insects, macro photography, Nature Photography and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to 08.07.2015 More backyard bugography

  1. I just love these photographs of yours – insects etc. I often take photos of insects, but I am no where near like being a photographer. I wish I could do what you do.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s good to see more of your picture of insects, which I know you have a thing for. As you say, these wasps don’t bother people, and therefore they make good subjects for macro photographs.


  3. Lyle Krahn says:

    Looks like a beauty to me! Great shots.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Even wasps that can be aggressive are worth a (cautious) close look for their elegance and beauty. I’m finding a couple species building nests on the sides of my dad’s house as we are trying to get it ready for sale. Hate to displace them but really must. Hopefully anyone wishing to live in the country will get it that critters come with the deal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve only had two painful encounters with wasps, Melissa. One was some yellow jackets flying up my shorts wen I mowed over their nest in my lawn. Enough said.
      The other was when I disturbed a bald-face hornet paper nest in our forsythias. Other than that, all my encounters have been of no threat. We do get quite a few in the yard.
      I can understand the need for discouraging the paper wasps building a nest around a house you will try to sell.


      • Ha! Every time I contemplate wearing shorts I think of the possibilities and opt for jeans 🙂 I don’t mean to laugh~I’m sure it wasn’t funny. You are quite right about getting those nests away from the house. sigh. I should go over there today…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. shoreacres says:

    This one’s a beauty. I had no idea that some wasps burrow. I thought they all build nests. And it’s nice to know that some aren’t a threat.

    I often see mud daubers, but this year I had paper wasps building nests in my ficus tree. I’ve been dodging them for weeks, and finally had to deal with them. They were too close for comfort, getting more aggressive, and the nests were getting bigger by the day. When the stragglers came in, I suggested they go elsewhere, and they seem to have taken the advice.

    It’s pretty easy to see where the expression “wasp-waisted” came from.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually had not heard “wasp-waisted” before. These are among the thread-waisted wasps so I guess the person described with this would have a very narrow middle.
      We’ve been fortunate to have very few nests near the house and when we have they only became apparent after the season was over and the nests abandoned.
      There are quite a few insects that rely on parasitization for the next generation of their species. Some are in underground cells, some deep with tree bark which is pretty cool. Ichneumon wasps are able to find larvae within the bark and use their ovipositor to drill into the bark and larva to deposit an egg which then hatches and lives off the host larva until adulthood.
      This is only the tip of the entomological iceberg of behavior. If you have any interest in reading about this subject, I’d suggest Gilbert Waldbauer’s books.


      • shoreacres says:

        Oh — here’s as much as you probably need to know, and maybe more than you want to know, about the fashion silhouette known as “wasp-waisted.” Back when it was the fashion, I imagine wasp-waisted women tended toward waspish attitudes. 🙂

        Thanks for the book recommend. I’ve added it to the list.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I remember some sort of “comedy” where a somewhat large woman was being helped into her corset by another with her feet on the first woman’s back struggling to cinch the thing up. Modesty seems much more economical as well as comfortable compared to the self-conscious trendiness of those times.


  6. Jim in IA says:

    Do you have Cicada Killer wasps out there?


  7. Mark says:

    I remember seeing one of these as a kid digging in our front lawn. Scared the heck out of us. Haven’t seen one in a long, long time but we do have a large bald faced hornet nest now in a tree in our front yard. I will probably do some photographs of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had a bald-faced nest in a forsythia a few years back, Mark. I shot it with my 180 and didn’t feel at all threatened…but your mileage may vary. I let them decide on the activity…no stick poking (ten foot pole or otherwise) involved. 🙂


  8. By coincidence, just this morning someone showed me a few photographs of himself with his face all swollen up from stings by one or more red wasps.


  9. krikitarts says:

    Beautiful work once again, Steve. Isn’t it reassuring that these are not reputed to be aggressive?! Still, best not to disturb them any more than necessary to add a few portraits to the portfolio. I speak from experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believe most wasps are not aggressive, Gary. Towards us, that is. Many, like the ichneumons, are of no threat whatsoever and use their ovipositors to insert eggs into prey for the larvae to feed upon. But the ones we see most often, yellow jackets and paper wasps, are a threat and they are what most people are familiar with. I’ve been lucky to only feel their fire once so far.


  10. That’s a real beauty, Steve. Smashing photos, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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