Friday: readers’ wildlife photographs

The Long Holiday Weekend is starting in America, and I may postpone readers’ wildlife photos till next Wednesday if readership is low: after all, anyone who sends in photos would want a lot of people to see them. But today we have our regular photos, and these come from Jacques Hausser in Switzerland and Stephen Barnard in Idaho. Jacques begins with a personal note:

There are still people working on the MIMs (Most Interesting Mammals)! It reminds me the good old times before my retirement, 9 years ago. . . tempus fugit. And two photos of invaders; hereunder with the comments.

The Sphecidae are solitary wasps towing their abdomen at the end of a long and thin pedicel. Adults feed on flowers, but for their future larvae, they catch and paralyse spiders, katydids or caterpillars, depending of the species. Larvae develop by slowly devouring the unfortunate prey, which remain alive. Here pictures of two allochtoon species that invaded Europe (which I didn’t know when I shot them).

Sceliphron curvatum is a Himalayan species that invaded Europe in the eighties. It hunts spiders to feed its larvae and installs them with its egg in individual “amphorae” built with mud. This one was born. . . in my bedroom, together with several sisters and brothers: it’s not always a good idea to leave the window open all the day for weeks. Unfortunately the “amphorae” were not easily reachable and I have no pictures (there are good ones in Wikipedia)..

JAC: Here’s a lovely mud amphora of this species from Wikipedia:

Isodontia mexicana is an American species accidentally introduced in Europe in the sixties. Until recently it was limited to Mediterranean regions, but with global warming it is progressing north and I found this one in my garden (foot of the Jura mountains, 750 metres high) two weeks ago. It hunts small katydids and makes its nest with plant debris in hollow twigs (or holes made by other insects), then closes it with dry grass.

Here it’s feeding on Aegopodium podagraria along with a tiny beetle, Anthrenus pimpinellae:


UPDATE: Roger Latour of Montreal has more on this wasp, both notes and photos:

For a few summers my apartment (Montreal) was invaded by that exotic wasp. I have no screens in my doors and windows so insects are always coming right in… moths, flies, bees and honeybees, wasps and even unknown species!
This species was not recorded before in North America and I had the opportunity to document its complete life cycle. I used to run a blog on mainly urban biodiversity and have published a few posts on the subject. In French: am sending you these photographs:
The first photo below shows the content of ONE amphora.
Look at all those spiders to eat!

Sitticus fasciger Salticus scenicus

The other photo shows an uncompleted amphora, not yet capped. You can see the larvae of the wasp sucking up the paralyzed (but still alive) jumping spider (Salticidae) apparently the favorite diet of that wasp:

Next, Stephen Barnard in Idaho is still amazed that Willie the Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)is still hanging about:

Stephen sent another photo of the Idaho Gadwall Gang. His comment: “Eleven this morning.” That is, all eleven ducklings are still alive. The proof (and not that they’re growing):

And a photo Stephen titles, “Spot the eleven ducklings (Easy)”:


  1. busterggi
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Next time someone claims to be ‘wasp-waisted’ I’m showing them these pics.

  2. Posted June 30, 2017 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    All very good. As I photograph and learn about the arthropods in my local region, I too regularly find this or that common species of insect or spider had been introduced from elsewhere.
    Like the owls and a few other kinds of birds, Willie the snipe always seems to have a ‘look’ on his face.

  3. rickflick
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I count 12 Gadwall chicks.

  4. jeffery
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting, in the case of the, “Gadwall gang” that although we have a natural tendency to “root” for the young and hope that they all make it, were they all to do so and themselves continue to have broods that all “make it”, we’d be knee-deep in Gadwalls!

  5. Posted June 30, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I like that in Willie the Snipe’s photo you can see its ear (below its eye).

  6. Jacques Hausser
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Nice update! I didn’t know that Sceliphron curvatum was so addict to Salticids, among all the available spiders. Small, fast and quick to jump, they are probably rather difficult to catch !

  7. David Coxill
    Posted June 30, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    First time i have ever felt sorry for spiders .

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