Identification of Wasp Larvae from Mason Bee tubes

Wings held partly erect.
Wings held partly erect.

In the previous post I indicated I was trying to identify wasps that had taken up residence in mason bee tubes, without actually parasitizing the mason bees



largewasplarvaeI found the larvae in tubes while removing the mason bee cocoons in the winter, and transferred them to a separate jar where I  let them hatch. By May 1 they were hatching so after taking a few pictures, I sent the images off to BugGuide.

The result after several months was an identification by an expert in entomology : Our thanks to  Matthias Buck of  The Invertebrate Zoology Section, Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

So he thinks there are actually three species represented in these pictures.

Eumenines prey mainly upon moth larvae, although some take larvae of leaf-feeding beetles.
Adults take nectar.

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata – Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Vespoidea (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps and allies)
Family Vespidae (Yellowjackets and Hornets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps)
Subfamily Eumeninae (Potter and Mason Wasps)
Genus Ancistrocerus

There were three species identified from my photographs( labelled above) although it is very difficult to confirm identity without being able to examine a specimen. Next year I will be sure to send him samples to confirm, and I will certainly not destroy these larvae when cleaning out mason bee tubes.

Pileated Woodpecker at feeder

Other woodpeckers have been using the suet feeder outside my window this winter  but this was the first time I had seen the Pileated woodpecker here. The photo was taken hastily through the salt-sprayed window while at my desk, thus the blur! We often see and hear these woodpeckers in the summer as they like the large old fir and alder trees along the property.

Scientific classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Dryocopus
Species: D. pileatus
Binomial name
Dryocopus pileatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Azolla the floating fern – a Nitrogen fixer through a symbiotic relationship.

In August the bloom of Azolla has started to increase. I added Azolla to the pond several years ago and have in the past had to skim it off as it covers the complete surface in late summer. It does provide good compost material  with high Carbon and Nitrogen content.  It normally cannot live in Northern climates but somehow has survived well here in the pond.2015-08-06azolla2s

There is a theory called the “Azolla event ” where it is believed that Azolla in the tropical Arctic 39 million years ago fixed so much Carbon that it reversed global warming. Reference .

A good reference can be found at the Azolla Foundation

“Azolla is a unique plant that can help reduce man-made climate change and provide biofertilizer, livestock feed, food and renewable energy anywhere in the world.

The Azolla Foundation was set  up by Azolla Biosystems Ltd founders Alexandra and Jonathan Bujak to provide a platform for sharing information about Azolla and its contribution to new technologies such as space exploration and planetary colonization.”

Also, the Nitrogen Fixation is the result of a sysmbiotic relationship between azolla and a cyanobacteria. This reference shows the formula for the process:

Azolla ssp and the large green leaves are Lemna, Duckweed

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pteridophyta
Class: Polypodiopsida
Pteridopsida (disputed)
Order: Salviniales
Family: Salviniaceae
Genus: Azolla
Type species
A. filiculoides

Anax junius – Common Green Darner -Dragonfly

I have only seen this one female specimen in the pond, and it was clinging to a pondweed leaf, almost submerged in the water, and didn’t object to being placed on the lilypad.

greendragfly2 copy
Anax junius – Common Green Darner -Dragonfly

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Aeshnidae
Genus: Anax
Species: A. junius
Binomial name
Anax junius
(Drury, 1773)

Yellow Snowflake: Nymphoides geminata- pond plant

Last fall I got this small plant with floating leaves  and small yellow flowers. It spreads asexually with stolons near the water surface. It also was winter hardy Zone 8-10 as it overwintered in the pond.  This one was supplied to a plant store by a local company here in Victoria, Applied Aquatics.

Yellow snowflake Nymphoides geminata

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Menyanthaceae
Genus: Nymphoides
Species: geminata

Pond Lily identity a confusion-Schizostylis or Hesperantha ?

2011-09-03 17.44.08
Schizostylis coccinea or Hesperantha coccinea

For several years now I have been growing a very successful and  attractive lily in the pond which I originally bought from a local plant store as a reddish-orange kaffir Lily,  Schizostylis coccinea. 

Hesperantha coccinea a pink variety from the red-flowered parents.

The interesting thing is that it reproduces from seeds very well –and last year a pale pink variety came from a seedling. I kept these plants in the same pot and overwintered in the greenhouse. Normally the red flowers appear in August, but when I set it back in the pond in March, after continuing to bloom most of the winter, it flowered again for a month. Then in early June the pink-flowered plant came into bloom and is still flowering in July.   All the other “scarlet river lilies” (see political correctness comment below”)  that were left in the pond over winter will bloom again in late summer.

A number of interesting points come up when researching this plant:

2015-08-06pinklily copy
The pink version came out in bloom again in early August , 2015

1. The “pink” variety I have does not correspond to either of the pink varieties mentioned in this reference .  “Schizostylis coccinea ‘Mrs Hegarty’ was named by Sir Frederick Moore, the Director of Glasnevin Botanic Garden, after the lady who discovered a chance pink seedling in her garden in County Galway in 1914. She was persuaded to show her plant at the RHS show in London in 1919. It was immediately successful and was given an Award of Merit. Schizostylis coccinea ‘Mrs Hegarty’ has deep rose-pink flowers and yellow anthers and has been rather superceded by the cultivar ‘Sunrise’ which is also pink. Schizostylis coccinea ‘Viscountess Byng’ has pale pink petals and the anthers are purple brown. This cultivar is later flowering and is named after the dedicated rock gardener of the 1920’s. Her flower beds were sometimes temporarily covered in water.”
Reference: St. Andrews Botanic Garden Flower of the Month”However the anthers of the pink variety I have are pink!

2. A Scientific name change: Schizostylis  spp. came to be seen as distinct from Hesperantha  spp. whereas in almost every detail, Schizostylis is identical to Hesperantha. Most Hesperantha species have pink flowers, while Schizostylis is bright red. Since forms of Schizostylis with pink flowers are found in cultivation and in the wild, however, that doesn’t seem to count for much. The final proof is  that Schizostylis and Hesperantha is the DNA data, which confirms that the two genera cannot be separated.

3. Political Correctness has influenced the common name . For years it was known as the Kaffir Lily. As the Ken Thompson points out in this 2012 Telegraph article:
“–Kaffir is an offensive term for black South Africans. I suspect no one outside South Africa is likely to consider “kaffir lily” a racial slur, but nevertheless I sense a campaign is afoot to find something less offensive. Crimson flag lily, Cape lily and river lily, or scarlet river lily, all appear to be in circulation. ”

Reference Botanical Identity crisis solved

The Drakensberg mountains in South Africa are  where most of these lilies come from.
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Asparagales
Family: Iridaceae
Genus: Hesperantha
Species: H. coccinea
Binomial name Hesperantha coccinea (Backh. & Harv.) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning