I have covered a lot of ground in recent days, from Cleveland to the Ohio River. Lots of cool stuff has come under the camera's lens, but I've had precious little time to slap any of it up here. So, to partially remedy that situation, here is a hodge-podge of Hymenoptera seen recently. Some of the insects in this Order rank high among our most reviled six-legged creatures, but I like nearly all of them. In spite of some of the stings that I've taken in the line of duty.
Note the long abdomen - this is a female, and she uses that elongate body part to insert eggs into the ground and into beetle larvae. The wasp grub will then consume the host grub.
European Hornets are predatory and take lesser insects, but I can't imagine it took out this big dragonfly. I suspect it is opportunistically feeding on the carcass. To me, it looks like one of these would pack a punch - one can be over an inch long - but they apparently are not normally aggressive. I've seen very few of these, but they supposedly are steadily expanding their range (European Hornets were introduced in New York about 150 years ago). This weekend past, I saw two, in widely scattered locales.
I was unfamiliar with this species until earlier this year, when John Howard pointed some out. Larval sawflies, at least those that do not sprout waxy filamentous growths, resemble caterpillars and feed on plants in much the same manner. This one was among many that were consuming walnut foliage.
I was photographing this Tuliptree Beauty inchworm caterpillar, Epimecis hortaria, and was so fixated on making images that I did not notice its unwelcome hitchhiker. A tiny wasp perches atop the cat, and it is undoubtedly up to no good (to wax anthropomorphic). I'm not sure of the family of the wasp - Chalcidae, Braconidae? - but it almost certainly has or will deposit eggs on this caterpillar. If so, the caterpillar's fate is a foregone conclusion, and it won't be a happy ending.
Many times, including several times in the past few days, I have taken macro images of caterpillars, only to spot parasitoid wasps on them while reviewing the photos later. An incredible percentage of caterpillars suffer such fates; some experts believe that as many as 99% of at least some caterpillar species perish due to predators, and wasps are a big part of that food web.