Welcoming the fall season, the temperatures are getting cooler and days are getting shorter. It’s always a time for transitioning from our summer activities. Here in the desert, it’s time to get back outside and explore, to do some hiking in the hills or just walking around the neighborhood.
My yoga classes are starting up again and I have had the good fortune to take on two new classes, one with Green Valley Recreation (aka GVR) and the other at a retirement community, La Posada. I felt a little rusty since I haven’t taught any class since April so I connected with a few of my students who are full time residents here and offered a free class for them. We had a wonderful time, even though we had an unwelcome visitor. No, not a person who was misbehaving or anything like that. A pepsis wasp, commonly called a Tarantula Hawk. They are very pretty, however, they also have the most painful sting of any North American stinging insect. Although they are not the most venomous, but who cares about that if it’s the most painful?
I saw the critter slowly crawling around in front of one of my students and didn’t give it much thought, figuring it would crawl or fly away. It didn’t have a chance! Once she saw it she was off her mat, shoe in hand a gave it a good whacking. She left her shoe on it so we could continue and later have a good look at it. After our practice and lovely savasana, she picked up her shoe and the bug was still moving. Everyone got a good close look at it and decided after I shared what I knew about them that it needed to be put out of it’s misery completely so she squashed it flat. I don’t really like to kill things that aren’t bothering me and won’t sting unless provoked, but other people don’t even want to give those creatures the opportunity to flee. They’ll still be lurking out there in the desert just waiting for someone to cross their path.
I learned about these tarantula hawks because last week as we were pruning our oak trees, I discovered in one of them a wasp nest. These were no ordinary wasps, even though the nest they are building looks like a paper wasp nest. But these guys are about 2 inches long! Bright yellow and huge. As I was researching what kind of giants were setting up house in my front yard, I stumbled across the information for the pepsis wasp. Turns out the paper wasps are beneficial critters, they eat other bugs and don’t sting unless provoked. So we decided to leave them where they are. As the temperatures cool off, the drones will die and the queens will move on so we won’t have to worry about evicting them.
Then there was this little guy who paid us a visit on the back patio the other night after dusk. A praying mantis landed right on my hand.