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This beautiful little wasp poses on an avocado leaf with a fuzzy salvia flower for added color. Yellow and purple and green are so nice together!

This could be a paper wasp in the genus Polistes, possibly the common European paper wasp (P. dominula) but I’m not certain. Her abdomen is a little too yellow, with black stripes too narrow. But there are variants in the species and there are also other kinds of paper wasps.

Paper wasps are some of the most streamlined, beautiful wasps. They are fairly docile unless you mess with them or with their nests. They often appear in this garden among dried stems, using their mandibles to chew off cellulose-rich material for their hanging, cooperative, hex-celled, papery brood homes.

Here’s another post about a beautiful wasp.

She was flitting around in the sedge patch, maybe looking for just the right kind of long, thin, green, grassy leaves to tear into tiny strips and use in her nest. This is a sphecid wasp in the genus Isodontia, possibly I. mexicana, although we are a bit north of their normal range. These are commonly known as grass carrier wasps. There are a half dozen or so species in the US, all of which look very similar. To identify one of these little beauties right down to species, one might have to examine genitalia, body bristles or the exact arrangement of wing veins.

These shapely little wasps seek out small orthopterids (mostly crickets and katydid or grasshopper nymphs) which they paralyze with their sting and stuff into the nest, where their larvae can feed on them safely. Depending on the species, nests can be in vegetation or in burrows in the ground, sometimes in the abandoned burrows of other insects.

You can learn more about Isodontia grass carrier wasps at Discover Life’s page for the genus. There are also some nice pages with pictures at Bug Guide.

Taking good pictures of this lively predator was tough indeed, as she was constantly moving. The last shot was a lucky one, an action pose just at the split second she took off and flew away. Adios, little friend…