Pelecinid, Formicid, Arachnid, and Crustaceans in a Sap Pan

The Pelecinid


Usually seen on maple trees or in the grass around them, this pelecinid wasp was on a truck window the other morning. These black beauties use their long abdomens to probe for white grubs, upon which they lay their eggs. The larvae consume their hosts from the inside out before pupating and emerging as adults. At close to four inches long, adult pelecinids are clumsy fliers, what with their small wings and long asses dragging behind. They really have to lean into the turns carefully so their rear ends don’t whip around and send them into a spin. Not all of them do, and the smallest of breezes prove daunting enough that most pelecinids seem to just fling themselves around, hoping for at least a soft landing.


The Formicid


Thanks, in part, to their formic acid content, ants are not just crunchy. They also taste like lemon. Trout find them particularly palatable and knowledgeable anglers carry plenty of ant patterns in late summer when thousands of winged queens take to the air on a mission to establish new colonies, wherever the wind may take them, as long as it is dry land. When it is not, the fishing can be a lot of fun, even during a season like this when “ant falls” were sporadic. Covering the rises of cruising trout ain’t bad, if you can find where the fish are cruising, but this picture was taken because of the oily looking slick trailing this ant.

Does it have a lemony scent? Do fish see or smell it? Is a bit of excess liquid floatant on the water what actually attracts fish to my flies?


The Arachnid


A large wood spider can straddle the wide side of a 2×4, which I know because I once used a length of 2×4 to fight one. They have hard hooks at the ends of their legs that go ticktickticktickticktickticktick when they skitter across hardwood floors and their eyes glow gold in the beam of a flashlight when you search in the dark for the source of all that darn skittering. Those same claw-like hooks allow wood spiders to scritch their way across ceilings, as long as they aren’t too big and as long as they take their time because, while lying awake in bed at midnight, no one wants to hear sritchscritchscritch partway across the ceiling, followed by a thud.



The Crustaceans in a Sap Pan


The first hints of color are in the trees, the begonias have been nipped by frost, and the smell of tangy wood smoke wafts across the lake from the camps. We’re not quite ready to wrap up the season at Fish in a Barrel Pond but summer is most definitely over and around here that means it’s time for a Saturday afternoon lobster cook.


Water is brought to a boil in a sap pan over an open fire, seaweed and crustaceans are added and covered with wet canvas, cooking dozens of lobsters in slightly less time than it takes to eat them.




Fish in a Barrel Pond, September 2, 2013

Categories: Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Pelecinid, Formicid, Arachnid, and Crustaceans in a Sap Pan

  1. love it

  2. I never heard of wood spiders, or that other long-assed waspey thing. Cool bugs, as long as they keep their distance. I can personally vouch for the lemony taste of ants, ate ’em off the side walk when I was a kid. And didn’t know any better. Now those lobsters, THAT made me drool! That, and the thought of a nice chilled white wine or a cold beer. A Pale Ale would be nice…
    Nice writing, tying all these rather non-related topics together. See you in a month or so…

  3. Was out camping a couple of weeks ago. Middle of the night, wife has to make an outhouse run. She’s putting on her sweatpants and screams something bit her. Little hornet hiding in her pants bit her in the butt.

    Two weeks later she’s still complaining about how much it itches. I’ve tried to be the caring, compassionate husband the past two weeks, but the laughing keeps getting in the way.

  4. I saw my first wasp like that this spring. Thought it was invasive until Mr. Internet told me different. 43 years here and I’d never seen one before. Go figure. Love the pics. Lobster…mmmm…

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