- Wasps Are Friends, Not The EnemySaturday, September 02, 2017
Wasps are one of the most common predatory beneficial insects! They kill thousands of aphids, grasshoppers and caterpillars every season. They have no interest in stinging you, they are too busy pollinating, feeding their young, and building their nests. There are two types of wasps: predatory wasps (Vespidae and Sphecidae), and parasitoid wasps ((Ichneumonoidea and Chalcidoidea).
Predatory wasps bring prey to their nests such as caterpillars, beetles, flies, aphids and grasshoppers. Their communities can be either social, where they build a nest with a queen and the workers feed masticated prey to the young, or they live solitary lives making individual cells for their young from mud and leaves in crevasses or underground. All adults eat nectar, making them pollinators. There are approximately 1,470 different species of predatory wasps in North America alone!
Parasitoid wasps each have their own specific prey: eggs, nymphs, larva, adult aphids, flies, scales, caterpillars, etc.…really most any insect can be a host for a parasitoid wasp. They are all solitary (you won’t find any nests being built by these wasps). They simply lay eggs in or on live prey and the larva then eats the prey as they grow. There are approximately 7,600 species of parasitoid wasps in North America!!!
Don’t be afraid to welcome wasps into your garden and landscape. They will help control pests and pollinate your crops. You can build predatory wasp housing by drilling holes in wood or using bamboo. I have built many wasp structures, and the wasps definitely use them! Plant native flowers for the adults to feed on such as milkweed, sunflowers, and mint. To encourage parasitoid wasps, plant habitat such as hedges near your garden and the native plants and flowers mentioned already.
I'm sure many of you are wondering about yellow jackets. They are the one species of wasp we actively try to eradicate. The reasons being: they are aggressive, and they are scavengers. No other wasp is going to show up at your picnic. It is often hard to tell yellow jackets apart from other species, but their nests are easy to distinguish from others. Yellow jackets only nest underground. When you see a round papier-mâché type nest or exposed comb you are looking at docile predatory wasps; unless they are in a very bad spot let them do their thing. You can even stand close to the nest without alarming them.
Since I have been actively working on the ranch the last few years, I have been paying attention to the wasp populations and actively encouraging their numbers by building housing and planting more and more bushes and plants with flowers to feed them. Beneficial wasps, both predatory and parasitoid, are another way we accomplish chemical-free, organic farming.
The Author, Gunthor Ott (a third generation James Ranch family member), is the ranch’s resident entomologist. He began is insect education by taking seven years of entomology in the local 4H program, and hasn’t stopped learning about the fascinating world of insects. His loves for insects (check out his impressive Instagram account @guntherjott) has rubbed off on all of us. Recently, he taught the families of the James Ranch the truth of wasps and their importance on the ranch. For more information see the Xerces Society,
Lee-Mader, Eric, Jennifer Hopwood, Lora Morandin, Mace Vaughn, and Scott Hoffman Black.Farming with Native Beneficial Insects: Ecological Pest Control Solutions: The Xerces Society Guide. North Adams, MA: Storey, 2014. Print.
- Farm To LunchboxWednesday, September 21, 2017Are there any other parents out there like me who groan internally with the thought of crafting a daily, nutritious, filling school lunch that your children will actually eat? I’m sure there are. I am deeply committed to feeding my family nutrient-dense foods from our farm as much as I can. So for this reason, I roll up my sleeves and do a little planning. At this time of year, there is such amazing, local food available that it is a natural fit to work some of it into your kids’ school lunch.
- Dryland Corn and Elote Con CremaWednesday, September 07, 2017Four years ago I (Cynthia) was walking through the Durango Farmer’s Market to see what I could buy for the Grill to serve. I stopped at a booth that had a corn stock that was only 4 feet high but had these large, beautiful ears of corn jetting off the sides of it. This was my first introduction to dry land corn.
- It Takes A Village To Feed A VillageWednesday, August 10, 2017The families of the James Ranch provide a well-rounded variety of organically grown food products for the local community: 100% grass-fed beef, artisan raw milk cheeses, pastured pork and eggs, fresh produce and flowers, and our restaurant (Harvest Grill and Greens at the James Ranch Terraces). It's a family affair and we have a lot of moving parts that come together to offer our community the freshest, most nutrient-dense food in the Four Corners. We are also proud to carry products from other local farmers! We'd love to take a second to introduce to you the current lineup of farmers that we'll be supporting and carrying at James Ranch Market and Harvest Grill.