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
I LOVE this clearwing moth. The raspberry crown borer (Pennisetia marginata) is a Batesian mimic of (I think) Vespula maculifrons and V. pensylvanica, our native yellow jackets. If you’re mildly impressed by the resemblance, you should see them in flight or walking around a leaf. They have completely nailed the cocky, jerky yellow jacket attitude. I can’t seem to find a video to link to, but this is a related species. If you live near a big patch of raspberry or blackberry, go look for them right now … they are out mating and laying eggs.
Posted in Biology, Gardening, Photography, Science
Tagged Batesian mimicry, blackberry, blackberry clearwing borer, caneberry, female, lepidoptera, mimic, Pennisetia marginata, pest, raspberry, raspberry crown borer, sesiidae, Vespula, wasp, yellow jacket, yellowjacket
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.