Japanese Beetle Grubs, Beware the Blue-winged Digger Wasp

Not swarming but rather swooping swiftly and gracefully at about ankle height the wasps soar communally, deliberately, in late summer. Blue-winged digger wasps are shy things. Seeing them cruising about like they do feels mildly threatening, but as I approach for a closer look, they adjust their pattern and veer off to another section of lawn, like the parting of the waters. The threat subsides but still I am unable to get a photograph of a wasp, no matter how long I stand and watch and wait for one to alight for more than an instant on a blade of grass.

digger wasp 2I find a few, eventually, nectaring on mint flowers, and get a shot of the yellow-spotted abdomens and the blue-tinged wings.

These gentle creatures of the morning take advantage of the lawns we tend so obsessively by preying on the larvae of chafer beetles, June bugs, and Japanese beetles that subsist on fibrous roots in the soil beneath the green blades. Depositing an egg under the skin of a grub, the wasp ensures the survival of its own and the eventual demise of the hapless grub. You won’t find angry nests of this species. Eggs are laid singly, and develop into wasps that emerge peacefully the following summer—provided, that is, that the owners of lawns resist the urge to spread “grub control” a.k.a. Imidacloprid a.k.a. the synthesized nicotine known as a neonicotinoid that scrambles the nerves not only of the destructive grubs but also of any creatures that may be feeding on their flesh.

blue winged digger mothSo often we deal with presumed “pest problems” heavy-handedly, missing out on pleasures we might have no way of knowing even exist. Watching the acrobatic flight and the purposeful predation of these beautiful blue-winged gliders is one of the delights of late summer.

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