Photo Durham Logo - Link to Home Page

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Colorful Wasp (Sphex habenus)

Wasps are noted for their reproductive sculduggery. Most depend upon a host insect of another species, and they engage in various forms of kidnapping and poisoning to make this happen. The host is usually kept alive in a state of paralysis until newly hatched young are hungry and ready to eat. There are a thousand variations of this tale, and the complexity involved can be astounding. It is the stuff of horror films.

From IMDB entry for Ridley Scott's ALIEN movie:  The alien's habit of laying eggs in the chest (which later burst out) was inspired by spider wasps, which are said to lay their eggs "in the abdomen of spiders." This image gave Dan O'Bannon nightmares, which he used to create the story. But spider wasps (pompilidae) lay eggs on their prey, not inside them, after which the wasp maggots simply snack on the sting-paralyzed spiders. O'Bannon may instead have been thinking of either ichneumon wasps or braconid wasps. The ichneumon drills a single egg into a wood-boring beetle larva, whereas braconids inject eggs inside certain caterpillars. Both result in fatal hatch-outs more alike to O'Bannon's alien.

This particular wasp is known for going after katydid nymphs. It is large and colorful with a painful sting.

colorful wasp (Sphex habenus)
colorful male wasp (Sphex habenus) (Family Sphecidae)

1 comment:

Tammie Lee said...

a perfect and wonderful image! also quite intriguing to see. thank you

Blog Archive

Subscribe in a reader

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Details About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
Husband, Father, Student Of Natural History, Photographer