Posts Tagged ‘yellow jackets’

Something has been chomping on my outdoor (recently freed) cecropia caterpillars. At first, I thought it must be the marauding packs of house sparrows, which seem to pick the yard clean of anything that moves. Yesterday, however, I discovered the true fiend: yellow jacket wasps (insert dramatic music crescendo here).

They will search out the feeding caterpillars and fly in and nip off a bite. It looks like they start on the knobs and then start taking chunks out of the meaty bits. Now, having worked as a naturalist and also as a volunteer at a wildlife rehabilitation center, my “ick” reflex is pretty strong (try having a sick woodchuck sneeze green snot all over YOUR face…) but being slowly eaten alive by wasps…ICK!!!

Not a pretty way to go. And the caterpillar ooze (oh, sure, that’s the scientific name…just as “thingy” and “whatchamahoozit” are valid, too) is a horrible black, tarry mess.

Still, I am hoping some survive, as there is just no way to protect these wild caterpillars from everything out to get them. I still have about twelve I am continuing to raise inside, so keep your fingers crossed.

—As a side note, one year when I was in high school, a yellow jacket queen made her nest up against one of the windows in my room that was missing a screen and was always covered up by curtains (it looked directly out and into the neighbors house less than four feet away). In a few months, it became quite a large nest and I had an actual cross-section view into it whenever I lifted the cutains…very cool! Wish I had taken some pictures back then.            

—I’m just glad the nest wasn’t as big as these monster ones. Look at the one in the car!

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