Apple oak gall (Amphibolips confluenta or Amphibolips quercusinanis), backlit to show leaf-like venation. Second photograph is a cross section showing where the wasp larva develops. I’d love to know what the spotting does, if anything.
Cynipid wasps love oaks for some reason — over 3/4 of the 1300 species use Quercus as host. People argue about why that’s the case (e.g., Ronquist et al. 2015). Even Alfred Kinsey the sexologist weighed in, back in the days when he was obsessed with gall wasps.
Posted in Photography, Science
Tagged Amphibolips confluenta, Amphibolips quercusinanis, apple oak gall, coevolution, cynipid, cynipidae, defense, development, gallwasp, glands, hymenoptera, insect, leaf, meristematic stimulation, plant, quercus, Quercus bicolor, round, secretion, spots, wasp, yellow
Here are photographs of a clump of ectoparasitic larvae I found attached to a small caterpillar. I think they are wasps in the genus Euplectrus (Eulophidae). Females apparently inject hosts with a venom that prevents the caterpillar from molting, thus preventing the caterpillar from shedding the larvae along with the discarded skin. Caterpillar was approximately 12 mm in length. Media, PA.
Posted in Biology, Photography, Science
Tagged caterpillar, ectoparasite, eulophid, Eulophidae, Euplectrus, gregarious, host, hymenoptera, insect, larvae, lepidoptera, wasp
I’ve watched hundreds of wasps hover around spider webs hoping to steal a meal or a spider, but rarely have I seen them foolish enough to get trapped. This was one was foolish. The spider was tiny, but approached the wasp every several minutes and threw a few strands of web on the wasp, then retreated. You can see the hind legs pulling out threads of silk. The wasp got away, by the way. Photographed at the Cornell Ornithology Lab in Ithaca, NY.
Megachile sculpturalis (Hymenoptera), the giant resin bee. At least that’s what I think it is. Never seen it before, but pretty distinctive in the way it holds its wings upright when resting. Beautiful insect, maybe shy of an inch long. Apparently makes nests inside old holes chewed out by carpenter bees. Photograph taken in Monmouth County, New Jersey.
Saw this fly ovipositing onto a recently toppled tree, in Clayton Park, New Jersey. Pretty sure it’s Milesia virginiensis (Diptera), the yellowjacket hover fly. It was large enough, though, to gave me pause for a few seconds. Syrphids I’m familiar with are much smaller, and never really register as wasps. A rather convincing mimic.