Prionyx Wasp Rides A Grasshopper

Today, this Prionyx wasp made a halfhearted attempt at burying this grasshopper. Read on for many, many pictures.

You might have noticed that this grasshopper’s antenna seem a bit shorter than usual. Also, it seems to be far from any grass and in no hurry to go anywhere. It’s just sitting.

That’s probably because it’s fallen victim to this, the Prionyx wasp. Her orange abdomen makes it easy to identify her.

The wasp will eventually lay her eggs in the grasshopper, but first she has to dig a hole and bury it. Since the grasshopper is a little too large for the wasp to pick up and carry, she controls it by taking the grasshopper’s antenna in her jaws and using them like a horse’s reins. There might have been some neurotoxic stinging involved too, but I didn’t get a chance to see it.

From nature shows on TV, you’d think the process of capturing a grasshopper, digging a hole, and burying it would be a straightforward operation. From what I saw, that wasn’t the case; either through confusion or through the love of joyriding this grasshopper, the wasp moved its prey several times.

You can see her “grabbing the reins” here.

She had no reservations about hopping off her mount to go dig another hole. The grasshopper just sat there patiently.

The wasp dug another hole… this was the third one since I had started watching.

Another grasshopper ride…

Another hole…

She seems to be quite good at digging.

Another ride…

And another dismount. I don’t know where the wasp went or if I spooked her, but it took her over an hour to come back and by that time I had given up keeping an eye on the grasshopper.