"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626


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Thursday, 14 January 2010

Conversations with Paper Wasps

It was warmer yesterday, just a bit. Over the cold spell I have become more and more fascinated with the little paper wasps. I go and check regularly on their progress and, hoping that the same works for wasps as for bees, I tell them what’s going on and ask how they are.

I have to tell you that they are not easy to see because their nest is tucked right underneath the handrail of the concrete balcony, you have to bend double and look up, then you are more or less face to mandible. 

Yesterday I spent some time with them. The conversation went something like this:

“Hi. How are you doing today? It was very cold last night wasn't it?'’

“Yes it was .. we were outside and you were inside…maybe you hadn’t noticed, we are, fine thanks for asking”.

“I see you are still huddled up together on the top of the nest”

“Yes that’s because it’s cold, stupid”

“It’s going to be warmer today”

“Really. Well  that’s good news because maybe you will stop blowing on us to see if we are alive… really, we are fine”

“Well I am glad to see your are doing OK .. I’m just going to take a couple of photos.”

“ Ok we are not going anywhere much just yet, and it amuses us to see you struggling with those enlarging rings. Have your knees given way yet?

“I am just trying to get one good photo to put on my blog”

“Your what???"

“It’s something I do online. People all over the world will be able to see you. If I make you look attractive it will do wonders for your image.”

“We could certainly use some help there”

“Ok, hold it now.. bear with me. If you could just take your head out of that cell it would help. ..niiiiice ..”

……some time passes during which I look at my pathetic blurry pictures, and then try again.

“Hi, me again, I see you haven't moved very much in the last hour” 

“Well there is not a lot of incentive for travelling when it’s cold enough to freeze the wings right off your body and we only have a small nest here to walk around.. So what exactly do you want now. We have been very patient with you. We CAN sting you know.”

“Yes I know, but I have read that you are quite laid back, as paper wasps go.”

“We are, that’s true but every wasp has its limits.. when I shake my wings take it as a sign to go …look I am lifting them now, so hurry up and get that camera out of my face..  and give us another laugh will you?  Have another go at pronouncing our name..”

Mischocyttarus mexicanus cubicola…..”

Wasp rolls around laughing….


wasps 2


There were maybe 3 reasonable photos and those, along with some bad ones gave me enough to identify these strange creatures and make some sketches. Hopefully more tomorrow.

wasp sk  1

wasp sk 2 jpg


Derek said...

Wow, great sketches! And what a name - quite the tongue twister. Thanks for sharing this!

J.G. said...

Who knew wasps were so charming at repartee? Thanks for the window into their world.

Gabrielle said...

Love your conversation with the paper wasps. And the sketches are lovely - the sketches should even please the wasps!

Shady Gardener said...

Very cute. :-) I can see by your sketches that some of them are still laughing! ha.

Dan said...

Fantastic conversation and drawings! I've never come across paper wasps. Glad you managed to get a photo of them too!

sharp green pencil said...

Thanks to you all.. they are such funny little things but have definite attitude. Mind you it was the most sensible conversation I have had for some days.

Derek, thanks, I still cant quite get a grip on this name.

JG, Indeed they are very chatty ..however I am not quite sure how much more of their window I want to open as I have just been reading what they do with caterpillars!

Gabrielle, thanks,I hope so, wasps can be tricky to please and they live very close to us. I am currying favour ..

sharp green pencil said...

SG.. they are indeed laughing and my poor old knees are creaking. How these delicate little airborne creatures must mock our lumpen clumsiness.

Dan.. I dont think you will find any papar wasps quite like this in the UK there is one European polistes species "polistes dominula" but its not seen much in the UK.