City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

September 21, 2016

September 9th

Filed under: Colors, Cricket, Golden Digger Wasp, Insects — canopus56 @ 1:08 am

Alien!

4:30 p.m. Near mile 0.5, there is a wasp about two and a half inches long resting on the ground. It is jet black except for its bright orange abdomen that is black tipped. Then it disappears down a hole in the ground. Moments later the wasp reappears carrying a chunk of dirt in its mandibles. This it discards and then it disappears down the hole again. The process repeats. The wasp is making a winter burrow in which to deposit a next-generation of eggs.

A field guide indicates that this is a golden digger wasp. It is a solitary wasp that feeds on nectar, but to reproduce it paralyzes one of the plentiful crickets in the canyon. The cricket is stuffed down the hole, and over the winter, a wasp larva feeds on the living but paralyzed and then deceased insect. Each burrow can have five or six chambers with a cricket and larvae in each room.

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