Bug watching

Is it just me or has this been an especially bug filled summer? Maybe I’ve just been more aware of them.

Josh and I were sitting on the front porch the other day when we noticed a swarm of large black bugs flying low over the grass. I managed to get up close and snap a photo of some resting on a weed. I used one of my favorite apps, iNaturalist, to look it up:

Turns out there are a kind of wasp that burrows into the ground and lays their eggs in grubs, killing the grubs (food for the babies when they hatch).

That got me thinking, we have had fewer beetles this year. I wonder if these wasps are the cause? Everything is interwoven. It amazes me the things that can be going on in our environment totally beyond our sphere of awareness.

Next we looked down and saw this wasp trying valiantly to carry a caterpillar twice its size up the side of the bench we were sitting on. I used my app again and discovered it is a Potter’s Wasp.

Eventually it gave up on this monster caterpillar and abandoned it on the floor. A few minutes later, it came back with another, somewhat smaller version, disappearing under my cactus.

Today I decided to clean up and move some of my houseplants back inside. When I picked up the cactus to wipe down the stand, look what I discovered…

It looked like a perfect little mud hut with just the poor caterpillar’s head sticking out. A few black specks were around – maybe eggs?

There was a second hut that I think I destroyed when I moved the pot. You can see the caterpillar that was inside and bunches of the black spheres. What do you think – caterpillar poop or wasp eggs? I think the idea with the caterpillar is that they lay their eggs in the body and then when they hatch, they’re surrounded by food. Does that mean the caterpillar is still alive and excreting in the hut?? I find this all so interesting. If you know more than me, please share!

Then I was pulling baby spider plants off to start some new pots and found this guy…

I think he’s a yellow striped armyworm moth. I made a home to keep him in; maybe we can see him make a cocoon and transform into a moth!

My final discovery this week was this bagworm cocoon. This has been a terrible year for bagworms, with many of our trees totally defoliated by the buggers. This one had fallen out of a tree, maybe it never hatched it’s babies out. It’s neat how they use bits of the tree they live in to decorate their cocoons.

What kinds of bugs are you seeing these days? Tell me about a new one you just discovered!

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