Post Content

Join the Massachusetts Wasp Watchers program today!I always thought wasps were the bad guys growing up. But smokey-winged beetle bandit wasps (Cerceris fumipennis) are actually the good guys – used to kill off an invasive species. This specific type of wasp (that does not sting) catches Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a type of beetle and feeds them to their young. So what’s the big deal? These EABs are the invasive species killing ash trees. With this in mind, I headed out to Carlisle with the Massachusetts Wasp Watchers Program to learn more about these wasps and how to prevent this invasive species from killing ash trees.

Live near a ball field? Have some time on your hands during July and August? Maybe have a kid who loves insects? Then the Massachusetts Wasp Watchers is just the job for you. This program is a citizen scientist project that uses native non-stinging wasps to monitor for invasive beetles like the EAB. These wasps live in tube-like nests dug into compacted sand, such as a ball field or a sandy road. These nests look like a mound of sand with a hole in the center that is a little wider than a pencil.

A Cerceris wasp netted with its prey. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Forman-Orth

Cerceris wasps spend July and part of August hunting beetles in the Jewel Beetle family and bringing them back to their nest. Massachusetts Wasp Watchers monitors the nests by netting the wasps carrying beetles and collecting discarded beetles left on the ground by the nest. Separating the beetles into netted and grounded, the Wasp Watcher will then send their beetles to their supervisor for analysis.

The use of Cerceris wasps is important in early detection of the EABs, which were found in Massachusetts in 2012 and have most recently been seen Essex County. The threat of losing ash trees is real and an important consideration in the health of our communities and state. During this time of year is when wasps are out and most active, so it is important that we get as many volunteers for Massachusetts Wasp Watchers as possible. A note from Jennifer Forman Orth, contact for Massachusetts Wasp Watchers, “smoky-winged beetle bandits are really good hunters, so if EAB, gold-spotted oak borer, or other invasive Jewel Beetles are in the area, these little wasps are an excellent early detection tool. That will help us to inform communities about these pests early and give them time to prepare and to protect their trees.”

Sign up to become a Wasp Watcher and read more about the program here.

Written By:

Spending my summer as an intern in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, I enjoy writing for the Great Outdoors blog as well as tweeting for the office's twitter accounts. While I am not in the office I can be found working out, playing lacrosse and enjoying time with family and friends. During the year, I am a student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges where I play lacrosse and I am hoping to major in Economics and Environmental Studies.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Recent Posts

2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April posted on May 14

2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April

A lamb at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. Photo by David Cawston April’s contest winner was David Cawston who photographed a spring lamb at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton. The Cummings School of   …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: April

2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March posted on Apr 23

2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March

Girard’s Sugarhouse in Heath, MA.  The sugarhouse was built in 1887 and produces around 250-300 gallons of syrup annually.  Photo by Michael Girard March’s contest winner was Michael Girard who photographed his family’s sugarhouse in Heath. Michael Girard has been a sugarmaker since 1961 when he   …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: March

2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February posted on Feb 25

2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February

  February’s contest winner was Amanda Bettle, who photographed sheep at The Natural Resources Trust of Easton.  This photo features Dog, a former 4-H show animal and sole male sheep among the nine ewes in the Natural Resources Trust of Easton (NRT) flock. It is the mission   …Continue Reading 2015 DAR Agricultural Calendar: February