Braconid Wasp Cocoons (four photos)
Like I've always said, you find one weird thing that you've never seen before while out hunting
insects and within a month or two you will find another. Well, on Antelope Island I found this
"cotton ball" (about 1/2 inch long) on a blade of grass. It was just too well formed for a spider
egg sac so I took a picture and later found out it is another type of Micrograstrinae Braconid
Wasp cocoon. Very cool! I search the internet for more information and found that Matt Goff,
from Sitka, Alaska, had a similar experience to mine and you can read about it on his blog.
Just before I found this, I found another grouping of cocoons like the one I found in
Mercur Canyon (see below). ©Carol Davis 5-7-2017
I saw this white cluster on a dead bush and knew from my Mercur trip (below) that this was a
wasp cocoon cluster. I took a few pictures from the car because the biting midges on the island were
brutal, but then I knew I had to get a better close-up shot (hence this picture). After getting one
good shot, I hopped back in the car, accompanied by fifty or so midges, and thought I needed
to get some more shots but, when I opened the door to step out, there stood a female Pronghorn
about 30 feet away. She was very calm and, in fact, lay down right there after about five minutes.
That ended my photo shoot since I didn't want to spook her, even though she seemed calm and
not affected much by my presence. What a beautiful animal to be spending some time with.
I didn't feel the same about the biting midges (scratch, scratch). © Carol Davis 5-7-2017
According to Bugguide, Microgastrinae Braconid Wasp "larvae are parasitoids of various
Lepidoptera larvae" so I'm assuming that underneath that pile of cocoons (sadly) lies
a dead caterpillar. Nature is fascinating and even parasitic wasps have parasites. Below
is a picture of the bush on which I found this 1/4 inch pile of cocoons. It was so white it caught
my eye as I was looking around the area for insects and spiders. © Carol Davis 4-12-2017
The tiny white mass (about 1/4 inch long) in the center of this photo is the group of wasp cocoons.
I don't know what plant they're on - possibly rabbitbrush. When it comes to parasitic wasps, none
are more devious, though, than the newly-discovered Cyrypt-keeper Wasp (Euderus set) that lives
in the Southeastern U.S. and preys on other parasitic wasps. You can read about it on the National
Geographic site but, beware, it's rated TG for "That's Gruesome!" © Carol Davis 4-12-2017
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