National Geographic : 1937 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE rnotograpn ty I'aul Henri raDre USING ITS STING AS A HYPODERMIC NEEDLE, A WASP PARALYZES ITS PREY The May beetle larva, too large to be carried away, is scientifically immobilized and left in its tracks with an egg of the wasp (Scolia) attached to its body. Upon hatching, the grub will find itself in the midst of an ample food supply. Thousands of wasps have been imported recently from Chosen (Korea) to combat the Japanese beetle by laying their eggs in its larvae. guard is a male, or a lone female, it imme diately turns around and effectively blocks the entrance with its abdomen (Plate VII, upper right). When a velvet ant gains entrance to a burrow it lays its eggs in the cells and its offspring feed on the young bees. Various kinds of digger wasps catch and kill the mother bees themselves and store them away beneath the ground to serve as food for their young. In my little colony there are two burrows of one kind of these bee-catching wasps (Philanthus gibbosus, Color Plate VII, top, lower right). KILLERS SHOW A CERTAIN DELICACY Although these wasps are storing their cells with the dead bodies of my little friends right in their own village, they show a certain amount of delicacy in their mur derous work. For they never trouble the bees on their nesting ground, but fly some distance away and catch them on my neigh bors' flowers. About these bee colonies you will notice tachinid flies (Metopia leucocephala, Plate VII, top, upper left) watching for an opportunity to lay their eggs in the bees' burrows. Their young live within the bodies of the baby bees. Dancing about the bees as they return laden with pollen you see much smaller phorid flies (Megaselia divergens, Color Plate VII, upper, right center). They also live at the bees' expense, as do others, in cluding minute slender wasps (Loxotropa, sp., Plate VII, top, lower left), canny, crafty things that sneak past the guard. The burrowing bees are not the only ones victimized by other bees that have learned the art of living at someone else's expense. Among the commonest of these robbers are the usurper bees, which prey upon their closest relative, the bumblebee. A female usurper bee makes her way into a colony of bumblebees, cows the queen into submission or kills her, and then coaxes, or forces, the workers to raise her young. The young are all males or fertile females, as usurper bees have no workers. The low ethical standards of the usurper bees are not infrequently approached by certain young queen bumblebees that appear late in the season and forcibly adopt an elderly queen's household. The scandalous conduct of these racket eer bees and of the few corresponding gang ster wasps is not a pretty thing to contem plate. But they form an important part of the picture of bee and wasp life as a whole. Besides, if it were not for them there might be too many wasps and bees.