Springy Mushrooms

Well, school is out and We are back to work on Spider Spring. The June rains were late this year and the mushrooms follow those warm showers. So, this season’s blog posts are springing up with the summer fungi.

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Nature Lessons: Parasitic Wood Wasps

Meet Ichneumonidae. We thought these strange insects were related to dragonflies at first. But I looked closely and saw their faces and general look were very wasp-like.

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male

This is the male wasp. He showed up first. The males wait for the females to find this log and lay eggs in the larvae of the horn-tail wasps. Thanks for letting us know what’s inside! Luckily, this post is not load-bearing and is  temporary.

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female

The males are big. About 2.5 inches. The female is huge: 3.5 or so. She has a long ovipositor that looks like a ferocious stinger. Intimidating but not aggressive. She showed up a few days later and started carefully exploring the post, tapping and moving along slowly. There were dozens of males to a handful of females.

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When she found the spot where the larvae were snuggled, she started drilling into the wood with her ovipositor. Her rear end sort of flipped inside-out and the ovipositor forked on either side of her abdomen. (The pictures would be better had I not been completely freaked out by the sight of her!)

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drilling

The drill took only 5-10 minutes.

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laying eggs

Then she deposited her eggs in the horn-tail wasp’s larvae. And took off. The males buzzed around for days afterward, waiting for the young females to emerge. We missed the hatching, sadly.

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male 2

So many little (and big) wonders to see and learn from surround us.

End of lesson.

The Tiny Garden

We don’t have a great garden space yet, but here’s our little container garden. It grows much more slowly just here at the base of the coastal range than in the lush valley. We’ll see what happens. We also hauled some stumps in a circle and screened the bottom then added sand, compost and fill dirt. We planted nasturtiums, forget-me-nots, sunflowers, cucumbers, calendula and bachelor buttons. I know, weird mix, but they were found seeds. 🙂