the curious case of the hornet in the daytime
Wed, May 13, 2009 at 11:33 AM
I was at a bus stop and saw this winged insect which came walking along pulling what appears to be a caterpillar or larvae. It kept walking for a whole block with it in tow. At one point, the end of the green insect caught on some debris and stretched as if stuck or clinging. I’m curious to know what these insects are, what they were doing, how it was being carried, and where they could’ve possibly been going. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks!
Though we cannot tell you the exact identity of the Wasp nor the Caterpillar, we can tell you that many wasps prey upon caterpillars to feed them to the larval wasps. This is behavior often seen in social wasps like hornets and yellowjackets. Many times the wasp will skin the caterpillar and fly off to the nest with manageable sections of the caterpillar. The wasp will “cut” the caterpillar into chunks small enough to fly away with. The fact that this particular wasp is dragging an entire caterpillar inclines us to suspect that perhaps the caterpillar has been paralyzed and will provide a living food source for a developing wasp larva. The adult wasp may provision a nest with living paralyzed caterpillars, laying an egg on each. Perhaps additional research on our part or the input of one of our readers will provide an accurate identification and explanation. A few minutes of searching led us to the Garden Safari Wasp page that revealed this to be a Sand Digger Wasp, Ammophila sabulosa.