Saturday, July 30, 2011

Backyard Wasps

Late summer seems to be the peak time for wasp diversity in my area, and already there are some signs of that. I have been seeing some yellowjacket-like wasps and some Polistes wasps for a few weeks now. Yesterday I noted a couple more interesting wasps in my backyard.

The wasp above is fairly large, with a striking black and yellow pattern on its abdomen. While most wasps with a band pattern seem to have bands that circle the abdomen completely, on this individual, the bands are interrupted. In fact, the gaps between the halves of each band grow wider towards the back of the abdomen, a feature that is indicative of Bicyrtes quadrifasciatus, according to BugGuide.

This individual had one other interesting feature. Its left hind leg is truncated. I wonder if it emerged this way or if it lost part of its leg during an unfriendly encounter.

Another common backyard wasp is this potter wasp, which appears to be Eumenes fraternus, a common eastern species. These wasps build mud nests in which they lay their eggs, along with food in the form of small caterpillars. I caught this one in the act of grooming itself.