Skip to main content

Native wasp attacks emerald ash borer

A while back, I wrote HERE about the apparent spike in at least some woodpecker populations. It seems that the feathered hammerheads have found the juicy grubs of the invasive emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis, to their liking. Can't beat that - any native predators rising up to attack and hopefully repel the incredibly destructive nonnative borer can only be a good thing.

Yesterday, I was going through reams of photos in my Hymenoptera (ants, bees, sawflies, wasps) folder looking for images for a new project. Filed away was this image of a small but stunning braconid wasp. I had taken it last August in Athens County, Ohio. At the time, I had determined its identity as Atanycolus cappaerti (no known common name, to me), and forgot about it. Since the new project - more on that later - is all about bees and wasps, I delved deeper into this little beast.

Wasps in the Braconidae family - which is immense, with some 17,000 species so far described - are parasitoids. I've written many times about various parasitoids, which typically kill their host organisms.

As it turns out, the little charmer above goes after wood-boring beetle grubs, and has apparently taken a shine to the grubs of the emerald ash borer. Very few of our native parasitoid insects seem to have set their sights on EAB as a host, so major props to those that have, such as the exquisite Atanycolus cappaerti.

The animal in my photo is a female, evidenced by that long "stinger" projecting from her abdomen. The needlelike structure is actually an ovipositor, and she uses it to auger through tree trunks and into EAB grubs, into which she injects an egg. The egg soon hatches, and the emergent wasp grub begins eating its host. Native wasp - 1; nonnative borer - 0.

There are reports of Atanycolus population spikes in areas of EAB infestation. Let's hope that trend continues, and the native wasps help to eventually bring the uber-destructive pest under control.

Comments

Becky said…
Too late for the ash on my w. PA farm. I believe every ash in the woods are infested and dead or dying.

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.


So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…