The Great Golden Digger Wasp is a large and colourful insect, shades of gold and orange and russet. We found her diligently digging a nest on a bare patch of ground on the Carolina Dyke in Tiny Marsh. Down she went, into the loonie-sized hole. Pause. Out again, backwards. In and out, with metronomic regularity as our group gathered to watch.
Then Jennifer decided to get a frontal shot and moved into the wasp's line of sight. I thought this might not affect the dogged activity, but no. The wasp stopped and started a dance – it reminded me of the Maori war dance – stamping her feet and waving her antennae at Jennifer. After which, she turned around and did the same at the rest of us. So we decided caution was the better part of valour and beat a retreat. Jennifer got some great pictures.
Despite the dance (or my interpretation of it), and despite its intimidating size, the Great Golden is not aggressive and minds its own business if left alone – though it will sting if you do something like step on it. It’s a beneficial and solitary wasp that does not live in colonies although several females may be found near each other in suitable nesting areas of bare ground, in full sun, with flowering plants nearby.Read more