The Corpus Callosum

One of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.  The
photographer’s identification is tentative:  Vespula
pensylvanica
.  Personally, I’d never try to identify
an unfamiliar insect.  

One summer, I took classes at the UM Biological Station near Pellston, MI.
 My cabinmate was an entomologist.  Watching him it
the field, I got the impression that the identification of these little
creatures is a black art.  Anyway, here’s the photo:

alt="Vespula pensylvanica?" title="Vespula pensylvanica?"
src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3333/3487769182_05b7e78c4d.jpg?v=0"
border="0" height="500" width="400" class="inset">

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alt="There is a Creative Commons license attached to this image."
style="border: medium none ;" align="top" border="0"
height="31" width="88"> by href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dolor_ipsum/">Dolor Ipsum

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As far as I can tell, the weird monkey face is not common to all Vespula
pensylvanica
.  It could just as easily have been a
baboon, or Jesus, or Darwin, or the BVM.

Comments

  1. #1 Alex
    April 30, 2009

    You’re right that it’s not Vespula. It’s not even in the Vespidae. This is a sand wasp in a different family, Crabronidae, though I won’t venture a guess as to the species. Bugguide.net might help.

    As the aposomatic yellow/black coloration serves such a strong adaptive function, it’s been convergently arrived at in an enormous variety of lineages, including a number of mimics. That pretty well makes using color alone for IDs a tricky proposition, at least at a crude level.

  2. I gave it a shot using the guide books I have laying around. My wife has also tried IDing via bug guide. The beauty of the system is that someone may one day leave a comment with the correct identity–nothing stirs the pot quite like blatently wrong insect ID. I am, at best, a rogue amateur and, at worst, a flagrant pot stirrer:)

  3. #3 JC
    May 9, 2009

    The “monkey-faced” desgination was descriptive with a sense of humor alluding to its similarity to the designs of south sea island status seen in bad “B” movies. Bug guide has tentatively identified it as Microbembex.

    While being scientifically correct is important, having a bit of fun can be good too!

  4. #4 mukhtar
    July 8, 2011

    hi guys f4rm g_unit soldiers