Sisters, At Home
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A note: This blog will be on hiatus for a day or two. Louisa and I are going away for the weekend. Of course, I’ll be bringing a camera and I’m hoping to be able to post some truly interesting photos soon.
The other day I spent a little time observing and photographing a paper wasp nest over at Sabino Canyon. These wasps are Polistes flavus, large yellow wasps that have the unique ability to stand on still water without breaking the water’s surface tension. This was a large nest and there were at least a couple dozen individuals tending to it as I observed it. All of the wasps on the nest are sisters with the exception of the “queen” who is the other wasps’ mother. They have a complex society of dominant and subordinate individuals, each of whom performs assigned tasks to help rear the queen’s offspring, tend to the nest, and feed the colony.
One of those tasks is security. Paper wasps are quite timid when they are away from the nest. The last thing that they want is to interact with humans and stinging is a final resort. But, it’s a different story when they’re at home. There, defense comes first, and any intruder who is regarded as a threat is fair game to be attacked and stung.
As I approached this nest the individual wasps were busy with their assorted tasks. At first, none of them paid attention to me. I set up about two feet from the nest and began photographing them. After a few flashes from my speedlite, the wasps took notice. Gradually, they turned to face me. And, after about a minute, all of them had dropped what they were doing and were staring at me intently.
I knew then that it was time to back up. I did, the wasps relaxed, and resumed doing their chores.
Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f3.5L Macro Lens assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, M Setting, ISO 320, f18 @ 1/160.