Pretty Petiole

I viewed this colorful insect with a wary eye since red and black tend to be warning signs in nature. Turns out that Common Thread-waisted Wasps (Ammophila procera) are relatively harmless as the adults mainly feed on nectar. Vocab word of the day: petiole is the narrow waist in between the abdomen and thorax.

Unlike the male, the female has an ovipositor, which is used for egg-laying (and stinging, when necessary). She does all her parenting upfront: paralyzing a caterpillar, dragging it into a sandy burrow, inserting a single egg, and sealing the burrow, before flying away.

When the larva hatches, it consumes the (immobile but still alive) caterpillar from the inside out. Makes me glad I’m not a caterpillar!

Categories: Nature Notes


  1. I learn something new every day, because I read your blog. I think I will have a tough time working “petiole” into a sentence, but with me, ya just never know… Keep those cards and letters (blogs) coming! You are teaching an old dog some new tricks! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s high praise, Jack, thank you! If it helps, petiole is also a botanical term for the stem that joins a leaf to a branch. Actually, now that I think about it, that info may not be all that helpful… 🙂

      And you are nowhere near an old dog!


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