Isn't that an awesome name? Great Golden Digger Wasp. For once, the common name is much more evocative than the scientific name, which is a mundane Sphex ichneumoneus. That sounds almost...base, icky, ignoble even.
Yesterday, while I was weeding, I noticed one individual continually buzzing around nearby, focusing on a little patch of dirt in a small corner of the front garden. Watching for a few minutes, I finally saw her enter a hole in the ground, then come out and fly off a minute or two later.
There is one generation each year. One generation annually is typical for predatory species. Plant eaters, on the other hand, reproduce like rabbits. Seriously... since rabbits are plant eaters. In fact, insect plant eaters will reproduce much more rapidly than rabbits. That's why predatory insects are so important: to keep herbivorous insects under control. This dynamic is one of the main reasons why spraying insecticides, which kill off both herbivorous and predatory insects, will almost always result in herbivorous insect populations rebounding crazily, meaning that you soon have a worse problem than you started out with. You've killed off the insect predators, and they may take years to rebuild their populations to pre-spray levels.
Great golden digger wasps, like solitary bees and wasps in general, are calm and gentle. They generally will not sting unless you try to actually handle them, but if that occurs, their sting is often extremely potent and painful. Just leave them alone and enjoy watching them go about their business. You'll be glad you did.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Great Golden Digger Wasp
Posted by Gaia Gardener: at 6:59 PM
Labels: Goldenrod, grasshoppers, Pollinators, Predator-Prey, Wasps
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Great post! I'm not familiar with this wasp, but I'll keep an eye out for it now. I really appreciate posts about insects in the garden, this is an area where I want to learn more.
Thanks, Jason. I'm learning, too - thank goodness for books and the internet!
This wasp is pretty good sized - well over an inch in length - so it's hard to miss!
It's always cool to discover that a fierce looking insect is really a friend rather than a foe. I've had several giant grasshoppers in my garden this year. I could have used this wasp!
Thanks for this informative post, and i really am amazed at your diligent observations. Am glad for the explanation about the herbicide relationships with insect population, that is so good for your readers. But personally, I am always scared of wasps whatever they look like, I've had shares of stings from many of them, that's why! And i had an experience with smaller striped wasps when my legs accidentally brushed on its house under the bush. I ran wildly and I had my whole arm painful for a week and itchy for the next 3 weeks. Maybe there are already 5 species that stung me, hahaha!
Very interesting information!! Great find in the garden. Love new discoveries.
What great photos of it working at its nest. You have such patience capturing the insects. I think I've seen a few of these around. Glad they're after the grasshoppers!
I wonder if we have these wasps here in Mississippi. Such a beneficial insect, and so pretty too!
Have a great day!
Most interest albeit a bit creepy post. The part about being kept alive but paralyzed waiting to be eaten got to me. Perhaps I've seen too many science fiction horror movies.... :)
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