Michael's dad came over today, looking for Tiger, aka Murphy Murcurio, the orange tabby. He was nowhere to be found (laying low under the bed, it turns out). I think we might be able to keep him, with visiting rights for Michael and company. The cat seems to like it here.
I showed Michael's dad the timberfly nest, and he said we should get rid of it, because the stings can be quite serious, apparently. Since the room is about to become a two year old boy's therapy space, this seemed like a good idea, though otherwise I would have been happy to let the insect be, despite the half-inch black stinger on the thing.
So I reluctantly took a penknife to the wasp's beautifully crafted nest. I wanted to preserve it in a glass jar, but it was quite brittle and came apart in pieces. Earlier in the day, I was watching the timberfly struggling to stuff something into its nest, but it was difficult to make out. The mystery was solved when the nest came apart and two little green spiders fell into the empty yogurt container I had positioned to catch any portions of the nest that might remain intact.
In the photo you can see attached to the larger spider what appears to be a small white larva, likely an insipid timberfly-to-be. It seemed that the spider was still alive--its legs were moving ever so slightly. I'm guessing that the mother timberfly paralyzed the spider, then attached her larva to it. The unwitting arachnid would thus remain fresh while the larva matured, and would likely provide a living food source. I'm guessing that the second spider was a back-up meal.
I'm sad that I ruined the reproductive strategy that the timberfly went through so much trouble to instigate. It would have been neat to see the whole process unfold. But then again, if I hadn't destroyed the nest, I would have never known about the spiders. So much drama going on right inside the windowsill! I remember these types of insects would scare the dickens out of me as a child as they hovered around the sewer grate at the end of our street, but now I think they're kind of cute...and fascinating.