Wasp THAT?

Paper Wasp on a native fern

Paper Wasp on a native fern

This week I watched with interest as a paper wasp (Polistes sp.) had its hands full while at rest on some Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)…a lovely, lacey looking fern native to just about everywhere in the U.S.

This paperwasp wasn't very cooperative in letting me get a picture of its prey

This paperwasp wasn’t very cooperative in letting me get a picture of its prey

As I approached to attempt a photograph, it was so preoccupied with its catch that it didn’t even notice I was around.  Face down, butt up, I couldn’t get a clear shot of what was in the clutches of this semi-social insect.

Paper wasps prey on insects such as caterpillars, flies and beetle larvae that they feed to larvae.

Good, a photo from the side

Good, a photo from the side

I wasn’t afraid to get close since this species of wasp doesn’t tend to attack unless you disturb the nest. Of course they will sting if you happen to grab onto the nest, and I can attest to that fact, although the sting seemed mild, perhaps just a warning.

Of course stings are hazardous to some because many people have an allergic reaction that can be deadly if not quickly acted on.

Now the paper wasp is being shy of Blackroot, a Florida Native Plant

Now the paper wasp is being shy on Blackroot, a Florida Native Plant

The wasp finally noticed me and struggled to fly away with the bounty.  It didn’t get far, landing on Blackroot (Pterocaulon pycnostachyum) which was in close proximity.

Looks a little squishy...a caterpillar of some sort?

Looks a little squishy…a caterpillar of some sort?

I again clicked away, still trying to figure out what was in its clutches.  Was it a caterpillar?  Seemed squishy, so that was my assumption.

When I got into the computer and began cropping and examining the pictures close up, I was perplexed because this didn’t look like a caterpillar I’d seen before.  It appeared rather colorful in a bright, multi-color sort of way.  I squinched my eyes trying to find details of legs or eyes or SOMETHING to help me with identification.

Can't quite make it out

Can’t quite make it out

I thought that maybe the paperwasp had chewed on a biting creature since there were tones of dark red…blood perhaps?  Seemed like too much goo for that scenario, unless it grabbed a nurse from the blood bank.

All of a sudden I found “the money shot”. I did a double-take, conjuring up the legs of another critter, but no, that didn’t seem to be.  I sat back and stared, somewhat in disbelief as I thought (s)he had a blackberry (Rubus sp.).

The Money Shot

The Money Shot

I knew that paper wasps enjoyed nectar…I always see them on many of the native flowers in the Asteraceae family found around my place.  A little investigation indicated that in addition to nectar they take juice from ripe fruit.

So, I headed out to the garden to get hold of a ripe blackberry and dug my nail in so I could see the innards.  I always pop the entire berry into my mouth, so really didn’t know what the inside might look like.


So, that's what the inside of a Blackberry looks like

So, that’s what the inside of a Blackberry looks like

If you plant berry producing shrubs you’ll not only be feeding the birds, you’ll also be providing for our pollinator friends and others.  Another fascinating day in my beautiful wildlife garden.

Learn more about gardening for wildlife by perusing the great “Ultimate Guides” which highlight some of the best tips in our articles.  Pick your favorite from the “Quick Links” in the right hand column always available on our blog pages.

© 2014, Loret T. Setters. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com We have received many requests to reprint our work. Our policy is that you are free to use a short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact form above if you have any questions.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Join the Wren Song Community

Wren Winter Singing crop

Free Exclusive Content and Member's Forum

Sign up for a free membership in the Wren Song Community and you'll have access to a lot more valuable information published exclusively for our members.

Meet other passionate wildlife gardeners from around the country. Share your successes. Learn from your failures. Discover the best resources to help you create welcoming habitat for wildlife in your gardens with native plants so that you will attract more birds, butterflies, native pollinators, and other wildlife to your garden.

Learn more about the Wren Song Community


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Current day month ye@r *

CommentLuv badge