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Other tiny gardeners

21 Apr 2010
Sunny 20°C / 68°F

Lots of insect activity today: wasps and wasp queens, Cabbage White butterfly, medium sized brownish butterfly too far away to identify – haven’t seen any Mourning Cloaks yet, they are usually the first to arrive. Lots of large Carpenter Ants still with their wings, the smaller ants rushing around busily and I assumed that little mounds of sandy earth belonged to them until I saw this small, maybe 1cm, beastie digging away, photos 2-4. It is a digger wasp, possibly Bembix americana aka Bembix comata or Western Sand Wasp, although at a body length of 17mm that is larger than my guess at its size. The adults live on nectar and I have seen them around the garden over the last few days hovering over plants, the larva live on flies. This species is not a social insect but it often aggregates in colonies; there certainly were quite a few of them from the number of diggings. Each burrow which is 16-20" long leads to a nest and each nest contains a larva which the female brings fresh flies to until the larva is mature. This wasp is also parasitized by the fly Physocephala texana, a case of the biter bitten. All of the digger wasps have a powerful sting. 5. is a collection of burrows, I counted 21 but I don’t know whether all are being used. Maybe at some stage I’ll see if there is a larva in some.

The spider is a Crab Spider lurking on a Monte Carlo tulip and noticed when C bent to smell them at my invitation. This is a female and may be Misumena vatia. They don’t spin webs but are ambush spiders, grabbing their prey with lightening speed and biting it with a venemous bite. The digestive enzymes in the venom break down the insect’s innards into a soupy mixture which the spider sucks out. Harmless to humans. The female lays her eggs in a folded over leaf woven with silk, which she defends from predators. Crab Spiders can change colour to match the flower they are sitting on.





Folia Helper

United States

The crab spider, then, may be why I found folded-over leaves sealed with silk last year on a plant or two. I have seen a few of those pale spiders around but don’t know for sure if they are the same. Thanks for the info.

Posted on 22 Apr 10 (over 9 years ago)

I couldn’t find any other pale spiders and these do look quite crab-like.

Posted on 23 Apr 10 (over 9 years ago)

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Revelstoke BC


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