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Thread-waisted Wasps Provisioning Nests

8-21-17 thread-waisted wasp by Mardie FullSizeRender (002)

There are over 1,000 North American species of solitary hunting wasps. All of them prey on arthropods, which the female stings and paralyzes (but doesn’t kill so that they don’t begin to decompose immediately). Most solitary wasps specialize on a single type of prey, and many build highly characteristic burrow nests. Once the prey is stung, the wasp carries it back to her nest where she then lays a single egg and closes up the nest. The developing wasp larva feeds on the paralyzed prey, pupates and emerges as an adult wasp.

One group of solitary hunting wasps is referred to as thread-waisted wasps (family Sphecidae), due to their long, stalk-like waists. While most close up their nests (by kicking sand over the entrance) after stocking it with prey and laying an egg, some species close their nest with a pebble and return, remove the pebble, and periodically restock the nest with fresh caterpillars for the growing larva. (Photo by Mardie Holland: thread-waisted sphecid wasp with caterpillar prey)

5 responses

  1. Louise Garfield

    Amazing photo ! !

    August 22, 2017 at 9:24 am

  2. Joan Aleshire

    Mary; What kind of caterpillar is in the photo? I saw a very large one like it the other day in my garden, and wondered what it was. Thanks so much for your wonderful work.

    August 22, 2017 at 9:28 am

    • I honestly do not know, Joan. Perhaps one of NC’s readers will!

      August 22, 2017 at 9:59 am

  3. Michele Girard

    It is simply amazing to visualize a wasp placing, removing, and replacing a pebble at the entrance of her nest. Thank you for sharing this.

    August 23, 2017 at 11:28 am

  4. Pingback: Wasp | Insectamonarca's Blog

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