Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wasp Wednesday: The Wasp Tree Part II

Last week I wrote about a single, blooming Saltcedar tree (Tamarix sp.) that was attracting a great diversity of insects, especially wasps. Well, after spending several more days at that (introduced, invasive) tree, I can add to the list significantly.

The butterflies alone now include Checkered White, Orange Sulphur, Dainty Sulphur, Gray Hairstreak, Acmon Blue, Reakirt's Blue, Painted Lady, American Lady, Variegated Fritillary, American Snout, Common Checkered Skipper, Common Sootywing (image above), and Uncas Skipper (identification tentative). Bees include the following families: Colletidae, Apidae, Megachilidae, and Halictidae.

The following list of wasps will be the final one. I will amend it as I make more specific identifications, and/or add new species during future forays to the tree:

  • Argidae: Argid sawflies
  • Braconidae: Braconid wasps
  • Ichneumonidae (Ichneumon wasps)
  • Chalcididae (Chalcid wasps):
  • Brachymeria sp. (chalcid wasp)
  • Leucospidae (Leucospid wasps):
  • Leucospis sp.
  • Chrysididae: Cuckoo wasps

  • Scoliidae (Scoliid wasps):
  • Campsomeris sp.
  • Trielis octomaculata
  • Tiphiidae (Tiphiid wasps):
  • Myzinum sp.

    Myzinum male

    Myzinum female

  • Mutillidae (Velvet ants):
  • Dasymutilla sp.
  • Vespidae (social wasps, mason wasps):
  • Polistes dominula (European Paper Wasp)
  • Polistes aurifer (paper wasp)
  • Vespula sp. (yellowjacket)
  • Eumenes sp. (potter wasp)
  • Euodynerus spp. (mason wasps)
  • Parancistrocerus? sp. (mason wasp)
  • Pompilidae (Spider Wasps):
  • Hemipepsis ustulata (“tarantula hawk”)

  • Cryptocheilus sp.
  • Anoplius spp. (spider wasps)
  • Poecilopompilus interruptus (spider wasp)
  • Sphecidae (Sphecid Wasps):
  • Sceliphron caementarium (Black & Yellow Mud Dauber)
  • Chalybion californicum (Blue Mud Dauber)
  • Sphex lucae (katydid hunter)
  • Isodontia elegans (grass-carrier wasp)
  • Prionyx spp. (grasshopper hunters)
  • Podalonia spp. (cutworm hunters)
  • Ammophila juncea (caterpillar hunter)
  • Ammophila wrightii (caterpillar hunter)
  • Crabronidae (Crabronid Wasps):
  • Sphecius grandis (Western Cicada Killer)
  • Tachytes spp. (sand-loving wasps)
  • Bembix sp. (sand wasp)
  • Stictiella pulchella (sand wasp)
  • Steniolia elegans (sand wasp)

  • Bicyrtes sp. (stinkbug hunter)
  • Astata sp. (stinkbug hunter)
  • Dryudella sp. (true bug hunter)
  • Stizoides renicinctus(image below, blog coming soon)

  • Oxybelus sp. (fly hunters)
  • Clypeadon sp. (harvester ant hunter)
  • Aphilanthops sp. (“ant queen kidnapper”)
  • Philanthus gibbosus (“beewolf”)
  • Philanthus ventilabris(“beewolf”)
  • Philanthus spp. (“beewolves,” at least two other species)
  • Cerceris spp. (weevil wasps)
  • Eucerceris sp. (weevil wasp)

All of the above were found either on the tree or in very close proximity. Male wasps take advantage of the fact that females will seek nectar at an isolated shrub and then create territories around it which they defend from other males. I found this was especially true of Tachytes and Philanthus, but I observed other wasps (and flies, too), mating on or close to the tree.

I have put together a “set” of images on my Flickr photostream entitled “Wasp Tree” that illustratse more of these insects. It is an ever-growing set, so please visit often. Thank you.


  1. Good for the male tarantula hawk that he only eats nectar. Our hairy, eight-legged friends have enough to worry about.


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