A Thread-waisted Wasp–Ammophila


High-traffic on the goldenrod.

Last year I posted on the hoverfly that had its mouth-parts trapped by an ambush bug. That picture was taken toward the end of September, when flowering plants on the prairie are not very numerous. The competition for the limited resources–in this case nectar and pollen on goldenrod flowers–can be strong, so these blooms become bug-magnets for many of the remaining feeders and their predators. While I was photographing the struggles of the bug and fly, this large Ammophila wasp (Family Sphecidae) dropped by for a share…


Ammophila sp. wasp (Family Sphecidae)

Female Ammophila wasps are caterpillar hunters. They immobilize the caterpillar by stinging it, and then fly with or pull their prey to a prepared burrow, where a single egg  will be laid on it. The burrow is then sealed, and the larva emerges to feed on the paralyzed caterpillar. Some species will use only a single large caterpillar, while others will provision the nest with several smaller caterpillars, however always enough to bring a single larva to maturity.

The thread-waist is so much thinner that the hind legs!

The thread-waist is so much thinner that the hind legs!



Big eyes!


(Photographed in Dinosaur Provincial Park, 22 September, 2013. Two top images taken with Canon T2i and Canon EF 2.8 100mm macro lens with diffused flash. ISO 400, 1/200 sec. @f11. Bottom two images with a Canon 5D Mk II and the Canon MP-E 65mm f2.8 macro lens with diffused MT-24EX macro twin flash, ISO 320, 1/200 sec. @ f16 )


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This entry was posted in Alberta, Autumn, Bugs, Canada, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Habitat, Hymenoptera, Insect, Lepidoptera, macro, MP-E65, Sphecidae and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .


  1. Marolin 19 January, 2014 at 11:51 AM #

    Extraordinary photos, Adrian. Really stunning.

    • Adrian 19 January, 2014 at 2:06 PM #

      Thanks, Marolin!

  2. Charles Bird 19 January, 2014 at 12:22 PM #

    Excellent close-ups Adrian. Maybe there is a way to see it but, if not, it would be nice if you were to mention equipment (camera, lens, f-stop, flash, etc..

    • Adrian 19 January, 2014 at 2:13 PM #

      Thanks Charley. I have added the missing information. Unfortunately metadata does not record the flash model or settings (I usually shoot with manual flash), flash position, types of diffusion, ambient light, reflections etc. so that information is only somewhat helpful!

  3. Gary Anweiler 19 January, 2014 at 1:12 PM #

    Very nice images!

  4. Adrian 19 January, 2014 at 2:17 PM #

    Thanks Gary! Next I need to catch one of these with a caterpillar at the nest site!

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