Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for September 12th, 2012

Black and orange on white and green

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This photograph comes from Champion Park in Williamson County. On August 20 I’d stopped there to photograph a stand of snow-on-the-mountain flowers, Euphorbia marginata, and I noticed… what? I couldn’t tell if this was a two-bodied mutant wasp, a wasp molting, or a smaller wasp riding piggyback on a larger one. I’m inclined now to think it was the last of those three things, but if anyone knows for certain, please enlighten us. I never saw any movement from the smaller wasp, but the larger one flitted from flower to flower, dragging its inert fellow-traveler along the entire time and seeming not at all encumbered by it.

By the way, did you notice the two spider’s legs hidden among the flowers?

UPDATE: Thanks to entomologist Mike Quinn for explaining that these wasps were mating or had mated. He notes that the “larger one is a female. Male insects often stay w/ or near a female they mated with in order to prevent her from mating again as the last insect to mate with a female often fertilizes the majority of her eggs.”

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 12, 2012 at 6:14 AM

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