Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Virginia Ctenucha, a day-flying wasp moth

The Virginia Ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica) is a large, common day-flying wasp moth in the Subfamily Ctenuchinae (Wasp Moths) in the family ARCTIIDAE (Tiger Moths). The body is metallic blue and the head and sides of the collar are orange. It feeds on grasses, sedges and irises. These pictures were taken at a Christmas tree farm on Upper Woodland Road south of Stanley on 6 July 2006. It's not often that you find and are able to photograph a moth emerging from a pupa.

The other moth species (seen here mating on a leaf, 10 August 2006 in Fredericton) is a look-alike, which I had misidentified as a Virginia Ctenucha. It is a Yellow-collared Scape Moth (Cisseps fulvicollis), of the same subfamily as Ctenucha, and is common to abundant in our area. The body is bluish black with an orange collar that forms a narrow band behind the black head. Scape moths eat grasses, lichens and spike-rushes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pelecinid wasps in my backyard

This large black wasp with the incredibly long abdomen is a Pelecinid Wasp (Pelecinus polyturator), the only member of the pelecinidae in North America. These are females, as the smaller males are seldom seen. Pelecinids parasitize of the grubs of June beetles, which are those white C-shaped grubs that you dig up in your garden. The female uses her long abdomen to probe into the soil and lay eggs on the grubs. I found and photographed these three different females in my yard last year (2006), but I haven't seen any this year.

Edit 27 Jan 08: With the help of BugGuide, I have identified the image of a small black wasp as a male pelecinid. See above.