The Wingstem flowers are just about spent, so insects in search of pollen have been concentrated onto the few plants that are still blooming. One of my favorite wasp species, the Double Banded Scoliid, Scolia bicincta, was out in force to gather pollen and nectar. The name comes from the two bands of white clearly visible on the abdomen.
I’m a fan of animals with black and white patterns. This one is particularly attractive.
A covering of hairs makes this wasp a pollen magnet. This species leads a solitary life style with no permanent nest, so the pollen is not collected and stored. Females lay their eggs on grub type beetle larvae in which the wasp larvae will feed until emerging to pupate.
I rarely see this species anywhere but on flowers. Since it doesn’t store any of the flower material, everything it eats goes to maintaining a healthy body for mating and laying eggs.
I was sitting on the porch a few hours after taking photos of the wasps on flowers and a black and white wasp buzzed in and nearly hit me in the face. As she went past I could see that she was holding something in her jaws. She disappeared with her burden into an abandoned Carpenter Bee nest. This wasp was a Four-toothed Mason Wasp, Monobia quadridens, a species that creates brood chambers inside available tunnels like those made by Carpenter Bees. Each chamber is packed with caterpillars and one wasp egg. Young from this nest probably won’t hatch until next spring.
It’s interesting that Carpenter Bees are not tunneling out new nests on the porch this year, but their old tunnels are being fully utilized by other species. Grass plugging the entrance to this old tunnel indicates it has been used by a Grass Carrier Wasp. Similar in habit to other tunnel nesting wasps, the Grass Carrier created a series of tree cricket filled chambers in which its young will develop.