Gooseneck Loosestrife and nectar-loving wasps

Last year, I posted a photo of the perennial Gooseneck Loosestrife in bloom. Even though they're rather invasive, I just love it when they're blooming because they look like a gaggle of geese. They make me smile and it's this time of year when I get to enjoy that sight.

However, there is an interesting phenomenon that occurs while they're in bloom and I haven't thought to mention it until now. Each year, the blossoms are abuzz with a lot of red-and-black wasps but I really wasn't sure why that was the case or the specific type of wasp it is.

Turns out, it is the Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneous) and after a bit of research, I've learned that they aren't aggressive while they are flying about the blooming loosestrife. And that's quite a relief considering how close I was to them while taking these photographs! If you click on the second photo, you can see the wasp up close.

They are actually considered a beneficial insect in the garden. Their favorite prey are crickets, katydids and grasshoppers. They nest in the ground and the adults range in size from 1/2" long up to as much as 2".

Just thought you might be interested to know what these critters are in case you see some flying around your garden.