A wispy water wasp

During my recent trip to the eastern parts of Washington and Oregon, I stayed at a bed and breakfast owned by a family that includes two young boys. It turns out that Arden, the five year old, is fascinated by photography. He carries around a small camera his father gave him, and I was the subject of at least one candid portrait, much to my dismay. Naturally, Arden was intrigued by my camera and the bugs I was forever chasing.

One afternoon, we all went for a drive into the countryside to see the local sights and look for bees. It was blistery hot and I happened to find a road puddle that was crammed with not bees but European paper wasps. They were floating, skimming, and flying all around this unlikely oasis. On a whim, I gave my camera to Arden, and after about 30 seconds of instruction he hunched over the puddle with no apparent fear of wasps. He remained absolutely motionless, so still I found myself holding my breath. I was beginning to think he didn’t understand what I’d said, when he steadily depressed the button.

The odd thing is that I would have chosen a different wasp. In order to get an uncluttered background, I would have chosen one without the weeds underneath. But I think his photo proves me wrong—or at least not totally right. The splayed out weed mimics the splayed legs of the wasp in a creepy, other-worldly way. I looked at it a long time and decided it is truly a work of art.

So congratulations, Arden, on your first published work!



Wasp in a puddle. Photo © 2013 by Arden Shaul.

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  • I don’t think I’ve ever seen a wasp stand on top of the water like that, I’ve only ever seen them break through the surface film and drown. Interesting!

    (Incidentally, that looks like a European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominula, based on the orange antenna tips and the yellow stripe running across the front of the thorax.)

    • Hi Tim!

      Thanks for the clarification. I will be the first to admit I know little about wasp i.d.—I usually send my photos to bugguide.net before I post, but this time I didn’t. That will teach me. I corrected the post.

      The wasps were indeed very interesting. Many, perhaps 30 at a time, were standing on the water.