Two Helper Wasps

by Carl Strang

Recently two new wasps appeared at flowers in the south stream corridor prairie at Mayslake Forest Preserve. It happened that one of them was featured in a recent post on Eric Eaton’s blog.

Bicyrtes quadrimaculata, so far seen only on common mountain mint flowers at Mayslake.

This is a tunneling solitary species that feeds its young paralyzed true bugs. Eric focused on one such prey, the marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), which has become an invasive pest of fruit crops. Though the wasp is supposed to dig only in sand, there is none at Mayslake, but perhaps there are some suitable spots along the little stream. I do not know if Halyomorpha has shown up in Mayslake’s old orchard, but the preserve no doubt holds a diversity of native true bugs the wasp can exploit.

On Friday another new wasp showed up.

Cerceris fumipennis, visiting rattlesnake master flowers.

As I reviewed some Internet references I found a site connecting this wasp with a different pest species. Cerceris likewise is a solitary tunneling wasp, but it focuses on beetles as food for its young. As this wasp has a taste for buprestids, it may have value in monitoring for emerald ash borers.

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