I noticed an odd growth on one of our juvenile leptoceratops on the Dino Trail. The growth was located just before the eye. Since our dinosaurs are not actually alive I reasoned the growth to be of “outside” origin, not arising from the dinosaur itself. In fact, I knew right away what it was.
A tiny black and white wasp had built this equally tiny clay pot to protect its young within while it hatches from its egg, eats and grows through its larval stage, pupates and finally emerges as an adult wasp. The female wasp stocks the pot with small, paralyzed caterpillars, lays a single egg in the pot, then seals it. The larva that hatches from the egg is left on its own, although it has been supplied with enough food to make it through the larval and pupal stages of life.
These little wasps are solitary. They can sting, but reserve their stingers for paralyzing caterpillars. The wasps feed, as adults, primarily on flower nectar. Hang around a flower garden and you will almost surely see one of these thin waisted wasps.
The nests are sometimes stacked one atop the other on a plant twig, stalk, fence post, or side of your house.
I usually come across a glowworm once a year. I’ve seen six this year. Glowworms eat millipedes. Millipedes eat decaying plant matter. There’s plenty of decaying plant matter due to the wet couple of seasons we’ve just had. The millipedes, and therefore the glowworms are doing well this year.
Finally, Chip, the largest of our Wetland’s yellow-bellied sliders was recently seen hauled out on a rock with a friend.
There’s never a dull moment here at the Museum of Life and Science.