While writing this post I realized that I can not even fathom all of the different life forms that we share the Earth with. I did have to do a little homework after spotting and photographing these interesting creatures earlier this week and decided to share what I learned with you.
My curiosity was peaked when I noticed them diligently working on this log for a second day this week. What are they and what are they doing?
With the assistance of my Field Guide To Insects And Spiders Of North America and an internet search engine I identified them as Ichneumon wasps. I also determined that they are laying eggs.
When my husband set up our beach chairs and umbrella this year we discovered that the table that we normally use on the beach during the summer was now being used as a plant stand. I suggested we use a piece of log from a large dead tree that we recently had cut down as a table and he thought it was a great idea.
What we didn’t know, but these wasps have told us, is there are some type of grubs living in that log. The field guide explains that, with their antennae, these parasitic wasps are able to smell grubs. When they locate the grubs living in the wood they secrete a chemical, with their ovipositor, that will break down the wood fibers to gain access to the grub. They then lay their egg on or perhaps near the grub and when the egg hatches the grub becomes it’s food source.
These wasps are rarely dangerous to people. That appendage that looks like a long needle is not a stinger, but the ovipositor required for reproduction. They are, however, thought to be beneficial as they help regulate other invertebrate populations. As I sat in the beach chair watching and photographing them they paid no attention to me and other than the inconvenience of not being able to set my drink on the table I had no problem with them.
Have you spotted any unique bugs this year?