This post is about one of the images of the slide show of the last blog chapter. Some Annual Sunflowers, Helianthus annuus along the Santa Cruz River attracted all kinds of flies, wasps, beetles and grasshoppers. Most of them congregated on the wilting leaves and seemed to gorge themselves on some oozing sap.
Among them was this reddish wasp with those over-sized thighs that indicated even to me that it is a Chalcid wasp. Through our great multimedia network, Ron Meldetz, Henry Hespenheide, and Dennis Haines all identified it for me as Hockeria rubra (Ashmead, 1894). They even agreed!
Dennis added: 'The genus utilizes two separate groups as hosts. The females with pointed abdomens like H. rubra are lep larval parasitoids. Those with rounded abdomens like H. bicolor and eriensis utilize antlions. H. rubra's only recorded host is the Western Grapeleaf Skeletonizer, Harrisina brillians. I've collected both male and female nectaring on Eriogonum flowers.'
The location of the wasp was not too far as the crow (and hopefully the wasp) flies from Charles (weevil specialist) and Lois (fulgorid specialist) O'Brien's backyard garden in Green Valley. This summer, Lois has had her hands full with the biological control (hand picking pregnant females) of the Grapevine Skeletonizer to protect a vine that has provided nourishment and refreshment to entomologists on countless field trips. So this find should make her happy.