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Spring Gardening Classes at City College

Reading About Wasp Behavior

I just bought a second book on the behavior of wasps. This one is called Wasp Farm, and is by Howard Ensign Evans. This wasp expert watched wasps on an 8 acre farm in upstate New York, and wrote about it in 1963. I found the book used, with the title on the spine barely readable, but when I opened the cover and saw the inside cover emblazoned with a wasp family tree, I knew this was going to have solid information. And I am looking forward to the chapter called "Thirteen Ways to Carry a Dead Fly."

My other book on wasps is called The Hunting Wasp. It was written in 1955 by a South African whose name is John Crompton. He reports on the observations of a number of others, including the famous French entomologist, Henri Fabre, and the Americans, a couple by the name of Peckham.

Most wasps are predators or parasites of garden pests. For example, some dig a nest in the ground and bring to it a paralyzed caterpillar. In this they lay eggs, which hatch into larvae, and these eat out the innards of the caterpillar, pupate, then emerge as adult wasps. Others, tiny wasps, lay eggs in aphids, parasitizing them.

Wasp behavior is sometimes quite remarkable, as when the Ammophila wasp spend considerable time choosing a pebble of just the right shape and weight, carries it to her soil-covered nest, and uses it to hammer down the loose soil. A tool-using wasp!

I'll report on this new (to me) book.


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