Paper wasps scour milkweed leaf tops, hungry for aphid “honeydew” frass
(noted in this 2017 post) dropped from leaf bottoms above.

Clockwise from top left:
Guinea wasp (Polistes exclamans),  Northern paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus), Metricus paper wasp (Polistes metricus), European paper wasp (Polistes dominula).

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A cuckoo wasp (Chrysis angolensis species, I believe) takes a shine to the milkweed leaves.

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A metallic green sweat bee (family Halictidae),
busy in the pollen of a purple coneflower,
appears to be an Agapostemon species.
But which one?

Thanks to standingoutinmyfield, who makes a compelling case in the comments
for Agapostemon virescens!

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A new planting is the perfect mixer for meeting seldom seen residents of Little Crum Creek.

Some blooming summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), for example, recently hosted several bumblebees and wasps.

Hence came Sphex nudus, I presume.  

Known as a kind of “digger wasp” for nesting in the ground, Sphex nudus is commonly called a “katydid wasp” after its typical prey.

But I’m basing our particular acquaintance solely on appearance.

Contrasted with similar-looking wasps, orangish legs distinguish Sphex nudus from the “great black wasp,” Sphex pennsylvanicus.   And the “great golden digger wasp,” Sphex ichneumoneus, would present both orangish legs and abdomen.

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Until corrected, I’m inclined to call each wasp pictured here a Sphex nudus

What do you think? Seen one around?

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Sycamore tussock moth larvae are known to drop in on anyone who’s spent a bit of time beneath a sycamore tree in July.

These hungry caterpillars then venture to skeletonize several of the tree’s leaves before becoming sycamore tussock moths (Halysidota harrissi).

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That is, if they’re not devoured along the way.

Chances are, with her long, piercing ovipositor, a female braconid wasp could insert her eggs directly into a caterpillar.

The hatched wasp larvae will then feed on the caterpillar’s insides, break through its skin, and spin cocoons on the poor worm’s back.

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This one survived barely longer than the wasp pupation.

Below, you can just about see the neatly cut and lifted lids where the wasps emerged, leaving their spent cocoons and desiccated host behind.

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[Though they escaped observation, I inferred this general identification of braconid wasps based on a discussion at BugGuide.net.  You can read the discussion here.]

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Looks like a wasp or a bee. So does that and the other. Especially when darting around the flowers with a large bumble bee.

But all three are probably hoverflies, flower flies, or syrphids, whichever name you prefer [see comment 1 for correction].  It’s the big eyes (like a fly) and the single pair of wings (unlike a bee, which has two pairs) that distinguish them.

Flower flies look like wasps or bees, but that’s just a protective ruse. Some even poise their abdomen to strike but have no stinger. Fun to find.  Good pollinators.

Does anyone want to take a stab at which kind of flower flies these are? Perhaps the black and yellow one is syrphus rebesii?

Several other kinds are out here working the flowers, eluding the camera. Come to think of it, that bumble bee hovering about … maybe not a bee after all. Volucella bombylans, perhaps?

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