Although we’re well into autumn, the American red raspberries (Rubus idaeus, Rosaceae) in my garden are still producing flowers and berries. The decreasing temperatures and sunlight have slowed their production, but they’re not done for the season yet.
I found this Northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus, Vespidae) taking advantage of the remaining raspberry flowers. Although these wasps kill other insects to feed their growing larvae, the adults feed on flower nectar. This wasp’s offspring hatched some time ago and will soon be seeking winter shelter. This adult won’t be so fortunate; they only live about a year, and this one won’t survive the winter. It was already stumbling around like it was dying.
This wasp exhibits some significant variation in coloration. Generally, the amount of black increases with northern latitude, while the amount of red increases with southern latitude. Yellow markings also vary quite a bit, generally being more prominent on the most northern individuals.