These large, black wasps are specialist in orthoptera. They provision their underground burrows, or nests, with grasshoppers and katydids.
Thread-waisted wasps of the ammophila variety provision their burrow nests with caterpillars or sawfly larvae.
Great-golden digger wasps (Sphex ichneumoneus), like the great black wasp above, is an orthopteran specialist. It too uses grasshoppers and katydids to stock the chambers of its burrow nest.
Both bees and wasps seem mesmerized by the diminutive flowers.
Indirectly attracted to the flowers, there lurks an insect which may at first appear to be a bee, but is not here for the nectar.
Robber flies of various kinds typically lay in wait in the vicinity of flowers and other “busy” insect locations in hopes of ambushing those who might be attracted to the flowers; bees, wasps, butterflies, true flies and more. They are swift and deadly predators.
The one pictured here looks to be a large robber fly known as a red-footed cannibalfly (Promachus rufipes). There are accounts of this species attempting to take down hummingbirds!
The mountain mint is indeed a very busy spot. But unless you stop and take a look, pause on your walk and observe, you may never notice what’s going on.
You have to walk directly pass the little patch of mint on the way to the Butterfly House and beyond. It’s just to your left as you pass the Farm Yard. Take a quick look.
Don’t worry, even though there’ll be dozens of bees and wasps thoroughly and frenetically working over the flowers they’ll be too busy to pay much, if any, attention to you. There’s little danger of being stung. It is worth a look.