August 3, 2022
Searles Gardening Team
Discover the fascinating world of garden wasps, natural predators that hunt tirelessly for prey on various plant species. Learn about their hunting techniques and unique behaviors.
Mention the word wasp to many, and their instinct is to back away. But not all wasps behave with evil intent; in fact, a vast majority of garden wasp species are amazing natural predators and are amongst the most fascinating of insect species in your backyard.
All predatory wasps hunt tirelessly for their prey on many different plant species for the widest assortment of prey. The tiny banded Ichneumon wasp can be found most commonly hunting on citrus species in search of citrus leafminer. They primarily search for caterpillars and if successful, will sting and paralyse them after which it will lay an egg within the tiny bodies of the unsuspecting prey (which by the way survive). This tiny egg hatches into a small pupae while its host is still alive and feeds on the host from the inside out. Sounds gruesome I admit, but it does make you wonder if some of the most successful Science fiction movies of all time were inspired by the trials of nature!
Other wasp species such as potter wasps (that make their nests from mud), also hunt for prey such as grubs, small spiders and caterpillars on plants and when found will parasitise them, then proceed to bring them back to their mud nest where they will feed them to their growing larvae. Adult predatory wasps do not eat their prey, they actually feed off nectar from flowers such as sunflowers, daisies, lavender, feverfew, basil and chicory (amongst many others), yet their pupae are carnivorous and like all growing youngsters, have a never ending appetite!
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