Bug of the day

Click on this bug--I dare you!

Sometimes the best bug is a dead bug.  And today Harper and I found a really cool dead bug.  It was about the size of a house fly, but irredescent blue and green, and it had a really long stinger.  I have never seen one of these flying around.  Just as well.  The stinger is frightening.

The merry ladies were cleaning at the time and Harper felt obliged to share our find with them.  Those poor women! They never know what they’ll be dealing with at our house. (One time the basement was full of honey bees–loose ones that had made their way in.)  But we left the ladies alone and explored the bug with the microscope.  Microscopes are cool and all, but the best way to look at this bug was to take a picture and then view it really BIG on the computer.

Augochloropsis metallica.  Is that what it is?  It’s a type of bee.  It is attracted to helianthus.  In other words, the coneflowers, daisies, black-eyed susans, and marigolds in my garden.

No wait…further googling reveals that the augochloropsis does not curl up on itself.  But a cuckoo wasp does.  Photos of the cuckoo wasp really match what we found on the porch.  The long “stinger” is really an egg laying tube.  The cuckoo wasp is parasitic, laying eggs in host nests of ground burrowing bees, like bumblebees.  Although the cuckoo wasp does not sting, its parasitic behavior will kill the larvae of the host.  Hmmm…I don’t care if it kills off yellowjackets, but I don’t want to lose bumblebees.  The bumblebees pollinate the coneflowers.

I’ll be on the lookout now for more of these wasps.  And my sleuthing today reminds me to watch out for the other ground burrowing stingers, especially when I’m weeding.