Insect-Insect Interaction: Great golden digger wasp with a katydid

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Great golden digger wasp (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Sphex ichneumoneus) outside its nest with a katydid (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Photographed 07/18/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

Great golden digger wasps (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Sphex ichneumoneus) can be found throughout much of North America. They’re particularly common in areas that harbor wildflowers for adult nourishment, sandy soil for their nests, and insects for their larvae to eat. Prairies, meadows, and fields are perhaps their ideal habitats.

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Great golden digger wasp (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Sphex ichneumoneus) outside its nest with a katydid (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Photographed 07/18/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

Industrious females spend much of their time digging nests, provisioning them with prey for their young, and laying eggs. They excavate near-vertical tunnels with numerous side chambers. They then hunt down prey like crickets and grasshoppers, sting and paralyze them, and carry them back to their burrows.

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Great golden digger wasp (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Sphex ichneumoneus) outside its nest with a katydid (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Photographed 07/18/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

A female places a single prey animal in each chamber of her nest, and then lays a single egg on each one. Once the eggs hatch each larva has a large, juicy meal to devour before pupating into an adult

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Great golden digger wasp (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae: Sphex ichneumoneus) outside its nest with a katydid (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae). Photographed 07/18/2013 near Clayton, Michigan.

The prey are often bigger than the wasps themselves, and moving them is no small feat. The particular wasp shown here had brought back a large katydid (OrthopteraTettigoniidae), and despite the size of the prey the wasp seemed to have little trouble maneuvering it into her nest.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Ecology, Entomology, Organism Interactions and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Insect-Insect Interaction: Great golden digger wasp with a katydid

  1. Mike Powell says:

    Amazing shots of a process that I have read about, but never seen in person. It’s a little gruesome to think about the katydid as the future meal for the larva, but I have gotten used to the idea of a spider sucking out the liquified innards of a prey, so it’s also fascinating.

    Like

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