Wasp eating Caterpillar
These first three pictures aren't very good. I was sidling up to the wasp and didn't know what it was doing. It seemed to drop onto something and maneuver around to get a good hold on it. But in the other pictures it seemed to know what it was doing. It seems to be a female Polistes fuscatus. It was obviously not laying eggs in the caterpillar. I've seen them drinking nectar but never seen them eating meat. What do you know about this?
I googled the question, "Are Paper Wasps carnivorous?" and found that Yes, indeed, they are. They eat caterpillars as in this group of pictures. We already knew that these Wasps eat nectar from the flowers. In so doing, they brush up bits of pollen from the flowers and then when they move to another flower, they drop pollen around that flower. This is called Cross-Pollination, and helps the each flower to produce genetically stronger seeds, not to mention allowing the genetic information in each new seed cluster to avoid in-breeding.
But now we know that in addition to helping with pollination, the Wasp also protects the plant from Caterpillars by eating the Caterpillars. So the Wasp and the plant help each other in non-trivial ways. The Wasp will fly up to the group nest and give bits of rich juicy Caterpillar meat to the larvae.
copyright Martha O'Kennon 2021