The Black Digger wasp

This black digger wasp, Sphex pensylvanicus, was visiting the extrafloral nectaries of partridge pea.

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It visited several in rapid succession, spending about a second or two at each one.

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Partridge pea is an annual plant found in tallgrass prairies.  It has extrafloral nectaries which secrete a sweet fluid.  The purpose of these structures is thought to be to attract ants which protect the plant from insects which would harm it.

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This wasp was not bothered by ants.  Many insects visit the nectaries, which seem more attractive to nectar-loving insects than the flowers themselves do.

Digger wasps capture insects–usually katydids or crickets, paralyze them, and bury them in holes as a provision for their young.

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About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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