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All abuzz about sustainability

July 6, 2016

This female golden digger wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus) is excavating a burrow in front of Building 8. This colorful wasp will only be alive for another month or two, so she needs to quickly prepare a place to lay eggs. Although adult golden digger wasps feed on plant nectar and sap, their young feed on the bodies of other insects. This female will paralyze grasshoppers and crickets with venom from her stinger and drag or carry their bodies into her burrow. Once in the burrow, she will lay an egg on the paralyzed insect’s body and close the burrow entrance. During the next 10 months, the egg will hatch and grow. Next summer, another generation of golden digger wasps will emerge from the ground and repeat the behavior. This wasp species is one of many that have this type of behavior and lifecycle. Other wasp species prey upon cicadas, caterpillars, spiders and even other wasps.

Will you be busy in July? Buzz over to the July Sustainability Opportunities to get involved in sustainability-inspired events, including workshops, biking and recycling. Compete in the new Green Team hashtag photo competition, too. Show off how #nasagoesgreen. One winner/month will get featured in the Sustainability Opportunities.

golden digger wasp
Image Credit: NASA/Lauren Harnett 

Matt Strausser, Wildlife Biologist
NASA Johnson Space Center