Friday, July 03, 2015

Nature Notes....

Yesterday I spent most of the day mowing and while I was gazing off, I saw this giant wasp with a 6" long poker floating below her.  I had seen this creature before and I knew what she was, but still, it's quite exciting to see something like it just floating by nonchalantly.  I suppose to her it was not a nonchalant flight.  I'm sure she was on a mission!

The female Ichneumon Wasp has this very long ovipositor which she uses to insert her eggs into old wood.  She lays her eggs in tunnels where the horntail wasp larvae are, and Mrs. Ichneumon's babies will feed on them when they hatch out.  Sounds like a nasty little way to feed your babies, but everybody's got to eat somebody, right?

What's amazing to me is how in the world does that little wasp drill a hole into the wood?  Incredible!  No power tools, no torque wrench, no chainsaw!  Just a little poker on the end of her abdomen. I do think that sometimes they find a hole that has already been "predrilled" and go in that way too.  No matter what, it's amazing!

Yesterday I saw her fly by me.  Today I went on a hunt for one and had my phone in my pocket.  I was about to give up the search when here she came.  In my excitement, I couldn't get the phone camera up and running fast enough to snap a photo.  She even landed on my leg!  Kinda creepy, but kinda cool too.  I was glad that my leg didn't look like a tree trunk after all!  They say Ichneumon wasps won't try to harm humans so I didn't feel threatened.

Here's a link to very cool video showing the actual depositing of eggs if you're interested.  It's a few minutes long and quite cool to witness.  I'm determined to find another Ichneumon wasp out there one of these days.  By the way, as I was waiting for Mrs. Ichneumon to come back out (which she did not) I did notice something else laying on the bark of the tree.  It pays to wait and look and observe.

On the swoop of the bark that was peeling off this dead tree was a mish-mash of a nest.  I know the nest type and the two eggs tell me these are a dove's.  We have lots and lots of doves around right now, and they will lay eggs all summer long.  Still, kinda fun to find!

Here's a photo of milkweed.  I think our milkweed is called "Showy Milkweed."  And it is!  I think it's so pretty and intricate.  Monarch butterflies love milkweed and lay their eggs on them.  I'm hoping to come back to this little patch and check for Monarch eggs and/or butterflies laying eggs.  One time we found a chrysalis on a milkweed plant and brought it inside and watched it emerge.  It was one of those awesome times when the kids were little and curious about all things nature.

Did you see the full moon two nights ago?  Oh, so pretty and orange when it just came up.  We've had lots of smokey skies from the Washington fires, and it makes the moon and sun look orange-y when they set or rise.  This moon is up high and peeking through the clouds.

I hope you're enjoying nature this summer.  So much to see! So much to learn!


  1. In those large photos the wasp looks pretty scary, to someone like me who has only had experience with the human-biting kind. I'm not sure I've calmed down yet, even though you told us at the end that they do not harm humans.

    How lovely to find a nest with eggs. I've found a few old and empty ones while cleaning up this spring; when I pruned the snowball bush I tried to leave the supporting branches of a nest that was in there.

  2. Thank you for the snipe! I honestly didn't know there was a bird called a snipe. I have to tell our Jeff that you can go snipe hunting after all!
    I like this wasp. He (or she) is delicate.
    We have heaps of lady bugs in the garden this year. That's good, right?

  3. What a lovely treasure trove of God's creation right outside your back door!

  4. I really like how got got such a close up and such incredible shots of the wasp. I have never seen anything like that. I like going on a nature walk with you. So many unique thinks. I think that milkweed is very showy indeed.
    Silly doves, they just don't build very good nests but around here I don't see many baby doves on the ground like I do the blue jays. There are always baby blue jays on the ground.
    We have bees that paralyze grasshoppers and drag them down a hole and lay their eggs on the living grasshopper for food. I have sat and watched that. I am so amazed that wasp lays her eggs like that. Thank you so much for sharing today.

  5. Such interesting pictures and info .. you should offer field trips! Thank you for sharing.

  6. An amazing insect! I can never get my camera working fast enough either. Oh well! I've been trying to take pics of the moon and sun lately when they're all orangey. They turn out white in my photos! I heard in the last day or two that Canada is having grassfires which might be what is causing our orange sun and moon. Nature is amazing!

  7. Who knew a wasp could be so beautiful? I'm usually too busy running when I see them to notice :-)

  8. You always have the most interesting nature posts. I've never heard of an Ichneumon Wasp -- thanks for expanding my world. I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

  9. Interesting observation of that type of wasp and information about how it feeds its babies. We were sitting outside in our daughter's garden having a BBQ at the weekend when we noticed a wasp with what we thought were green wings! It was going into a hole in a pottery flower pot and then hovering by an air vent in the wall of the house. On looking closely we saw it was holding a large caterpillar! It eventually dropped it into the vent where there must be a nest. Unfortunately it was difficult to photograph.

  10. I'm always awestruck at the intricacies of insects, even the fact that grasshopper legs are usually striped. God lavishes details throughout the universe, no matter if anyone but Him is seeing it or not. It seems to me He takes great pleasure in His world. Thanks for reminding me to stop and take some pleasure, too:)

  11. Lovely moon shot! Several friends have been mentioning that moon a few days back -- Rainey in SE Florida, and you up in Montana :) The moon is all over! I'm not much of a fan of insects, although I do find this reading quite interesting -- but I'll leave the actual viewing up to other people. We have so many, many insects down here in the south. Clearing brush on our new property the last couple of days was quite buggy, quite messy. As I read about your dove's nest, a dove outside my window was doing its low, calm coohing. Very nice.


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