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Old Jul 21, 2009, 4:20 PM   #1
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Default Beewolves and other wasps

I was out trying my new Tamron 18-250 (on my Pentax K100 - I have posted close-ups with the same lens in Sony mount) with no intent of taking macros, but a rare opportunity presented itself and so . . . .

Beewolves (Philanthus sp) are predatory wasps which capture bees and other wasps. These are on the small side for the Genus, but, then, so are the other wasps that have been harvesting our caterpillars, so I hope this little encounter will create more of them. I saw what appeared to be a single strange looking elongate insect flying about, and I followed "it" until "it" landed, and it wasn't what I expected. I got only a quick shot before they got scared off and flew away together, still in copula to parts unknown. The smaller male is on the left.

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An equally small European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominulus, was introduced into Massachusetts in 1986 and has spread across the country, only recently reaching all the way to California. It is a successful species, displacing native wasps. It is more efficient than the wasps that were taking caterpillars last year (we had the house painted and destroyed their nests under the eaves), which hunted on the wing. These land on each and every leaf and inspect it closely so as not to miss a thing, so unless the beewolves get busy we won't have any this year (we have found none so far, despite feverish egg laying by Monarchs, Fritillaries, and a Queen)!

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And, finally, last years paper wasp (not seen this year at all)

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Last edited by penolta; Jul 21, 2009 at 6:05 PM.
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Old Jul 21, 2009, 4:26 PM   #2
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Great series and as always, very instructive.
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Old Jul 21, 2009, 4:32 PM   #3
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Excellent shots... real enough to have me looking for a can of raid....
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Old Jul 21, 2009, 10:27 PM   #4
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Old Jul 22, 2009, 6:17 PM   #5
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Thanks Steve, Conor, and Bob.

I didn't know how these wasps were hunting until I examined these pictures, wondering why they were squatting so low on the leaves It is particularly noticeable in No 4 above and No 6 below that their antennae are touching the leaf surface, probably searching for some scent of a butterfly or caterpillar or vibrations from caterpillars chewing on the leaves. Interesting.

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Old Nov 17, 2009, 2:06 PM   #6
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great pics !
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Old Nov 18, 2009, 1:01 AM   #7
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very nice
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Old Nov 19, 2009, 10:18 PM   #8
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Got stung on the thumb by a wasp while raking leaves. Since then, pictures like these give me the heebie-geebies.
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 12:58 PM   #9
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Thanks for looking and commenting, Keith, e.s., and Neil - It has been a while since I have been stung by one, but I remember how they do hurt. These smaller ones don't seem to be aggressive, but I was at the long fl end of the lens (375mm equivalent) as I followed them around.
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Old Nov 25, 2009, 6:24 PM   #10
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Penolta... lovely series. And I congratulate you on being brave to get that close.

Great exposure, colours and sharpness in these photos. As I'm now allergic to wasps (I was stung in Europe about 6 years ago by one) - I need to carry an epi-pen with me everywhere (back in Australia now)... so that's annoying.

I still photograph bees (and have some shots I'm happy with) - but won't do wasps.

Keep sharing - good skill.

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