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.