Monday, July 19, 2010

Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccifolium

A Mud Dauber and Scoliid Wasp working the Rattlesnake Master blooms. This is one of the odder looking natives I planted last fall. I'd read it's pollinated by wasps but had no idea it would actually attract them. I don't normally see Scoliid Wasps until the fall time when Sedum blooms. The Mud Dauber I sometimes see working Raspberries but not often. I see Potter Wasps more commonly working those along with bumblebees.

Wasps of course are very beneficial. Though they are somewhat counterproductive in a butterfly garden. Turns out they're to good at their job. I have loads of violets that are nibbled to bits by caterpillars, and likely hosts to some pretty butterflies. That said I've only been able to see one caterpillar this year and that was picked off shortly after by a paper wasp. When we get outside the realm of common paper wasps and yellow jackets though, we start to find more specialized predators. Many Mud Daubers specialize in hunting spiders. Scoliid Wasps burrow into lawns to inject their eggs in root eating beetle grubs.

The adults feed on nectar like bees do, and it takes certain plants to get their attention. It's the only way to really admire the color patterns. Scoliid Wasps in particular are very pretty.