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One of my fondest memories in natural history education is the 
full-bodied demonstration by Dick Dawson, then director of Kansas City 
Municipal Camps, of a Cicada-Killer Wasp digging the hole to receive the 
cicada, searching for, capturing, then carrying the wasp clasped beneath 
its body as it walked up a tree, flying at about a 45 degree angle 
(because of the weight) until hitting the ground, then climbing yet 
another tree and flying until the hole is reached.  At that point the 
cicada is taken into the hole and the eggs laid in it.

But, asserted and demonstrated Herr Dawson, if the wasp cannot find the 
hole, rather than digging a new one and placing the cicada in it, the 
wasp discards the cicada, wanders off, digs a new hole and hunts for 
another cicada!

Talk about being hard-wired---the wasp, of course, not Dick.

Thanks for the memories,

Edge Wade
Columbia, MO
[log in to unmask]
On Friday, August 19, 2005, at 02:36 PM, Mick Richardson wrote:

> A brief visit to the Gaddy Bird Garden, Tower Grove Park, St Louis City 
> at
> lunchtime today. A female Black and White Warbler was seen. Also a 
> female
> humming bird. Not a bird observation, but I saw a large wasp hunt and 
> catch
> a cicada. The loss of one cicada did not reduce the cacophony of the
> cicadas in general. A large number of robins were feasting on the
> elderberries.
>
> Yesterday lunchtime, there were two Carolina Wrens in the Bird Garden. 
> They
> were also seen earlier in the week but not today. A single red-tailed 
> hawk
> was flying below tree level in the park yesterday.
>
> I have not seen the Olive-Sided Flycatcher despite visiting daily since 
> the
> earlier report.
>
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