Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Paper wasps

with 35 comments


When I was out on August 30th at a property along US 183 in Cedar Park photographing sumpweed and snow-on-the-mountain, I also found some paper wasps busy working on their nest. Notice the egg in one cell.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 4, 2016 at 5:00 AM

35 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. My mortal enemies! 😉


    October 4, 2016 at 7:29 AM

    • Have they made nests on your house or in your yard?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2016 at 7:33 AM

      • Here, we have had a very few only, but in Karnes City it was a different matter: lots and lots of them. These little brutes were so aggressive and they stung me quite often. But I got my revenge with wasp spray! 😉


        October 4, 2016 at 5:46 PM

        • Oh, I’m sorry to hear you got stung quite often. Fortunately I’ve been exempt so far.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 4, 2016 at 7:00 PM

          • Lucky you! I vividly remember how I got stung on my nose once and for a few days looked like a double of Karl Malden. 😉


            October 5, 2016 at 7:35 AM

            • I hope that during those few days you collected a salary equal to his.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 5, 2016 at 7:37 AM

              • As you might imagine, the answer is “no”. 😉 Unfortunately! 😉


                October 5, 2016 at 8:34 AM

  2. Even though I know they’re just going about their business, I prefer seeing them in your photos, where I can examine the colorful patterns at my leisure and in detail, instead of looking for the nearest exit.

    I looked at some of the linked photos, and enjoyed your comment on the post showing them on the giant ragweed plant: “And now I leave it to you to see if you can say the phrase wasps’ nests quickly a dozen times without messing up. If you make it, try wasps’ nests’ wisps. Slow’s easy, but fast’s a stinger.”

    And, rearranged a little, there’s this recognizable line: what if a much of a wisp of a wasp…


    October 4, 2016 at 7:32 AM

    • Ah, it sounds like the modernist poet e e leinen, like the previous and almost simultaneous commenter, has had her run-ins with paper wasps.

      I never think to look at the older posts that Word Press suggests at the end of the current post. Hard to believe it’s been three years since that picture on the giant ragweed; I remember it so well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2016 at 7:45 AM

  3. In the winter months I walk to the Washita River just west of our place, where I find huge paper nests hanging on bare branches. I used them to decorate our home. They’re just beautiful I think!


    October 4, 2016 at 7:54 AM

    • Now that’s an original idea. Can you point us to some online photographs showing the nests as decorations in your home?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2016 at 10:27 AM

      • I may just have to do a blog post on decorating with nature. We have collected some unusual discards and oddities. I collect insects that have expired also – if they’re in good condition. I can’t tell you the number of nieces and nephews or friends who needed a specimen of some kind for a science project in school. It’s good to keep a few weird bugs on hand! Ha ha!


        October 4, 2016 at 10:55 AM

        • A post about decorating with nature sounds like a great idea. Go for it.

          Even if some people find it strange that you’ve been hanging on to weird bugs, you’ve been following in the great tradition of Art Nouveau.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 4, 2016 at 11:09 AM

  4. That’s really up close and personal.


    October 4, 2016 at 9:22 AM

    • As the wolf said to Little Red Riding Hood: “The better to see you, my dear.” This photograph is cropped to about 40% of the frame’s full area, but I still had to get pretty close.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2016 at 10:32 AM

  5. It is nice to see them somewhere besides above my front door! Actually, we do see magnificent nests in the trees after the leaves fall. People are amazed to learn the wasps have been nearby for months, quietly going about their business.


    October 4, 2016 at 9:50 AM

    • Some of these wasps set up housekeeping in the overhang outside our front door last year. We normally come in through the garage, but I felt I had to spray for the sake of visitors and delivery people.

      While photographing on the prairie last week I came across an active paper wasp nest on a goldenrod plant a foot or two above the ground. It’s good to see these wasps in nature rather than on our houses.

      Have you considered a painting with paper wasps in it?

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2016 at 10:43 AM

  6. Wonderful, Steve! Lovely colours and detail.

    Pete Hillman

    October 4, 2016 at 11:56 AM

  7. Paper wasps, unlike dirt daubers, are apt to sting people who wander near their territory.
    I hate to kill insects, but make an exception for any paper wasp with a nest in my personal space!
    Christina Mild

    christina Mild

    October 4, 2016 at 12:37 PM

    • I understand the need to do something when these wasps set up a nest on people’s houses. I had to get rid of some last year. Luckily none have ever stung me, even when I’ve gotten in close to take pictures. May it stay that way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2016 at 6:58 PM

  8. I don’t care what your working distance was … you were far too close for my taste. You must have had a calming influence on them … if it had been me behind the camera, they’d have been after me for sure.

    Pairodox Farm

    October 4, 2016 at 7:18 PM

    • I’m sorry to hear that these wasps are likely to take you for a pincushion. I always keep what seems to me a reasonable distance, but of course one of these days I could be proved wrong.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 4, 2016 at 7:28 PM

  9. Beautiful shot!


    October 4, 2016 at 9:22 PM

  10. Nice shot, Steve. Catching them in the act. We had a very nice bald-faced hornet nest, which is more a large paper ball than what most folks see of wasp nests. As much work as is involved by the colony, it is a one year occupancy rate.

    Steve Gingold

    October 6, 2016 at 4:12 AM

    • I’d forgotten about that post. One difference with the paper wasps is that their cells remain open, whereas the baldface hornets and mud dauber wasps close off their structures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2016 at 6:07 AM

  11. Nicely close! How far away did you shoot the pic? Coincidentally, hubby shot a paper wasp nest less than 2 weeks ago (9/24). He’d gingerly approached the target until about 3 or 4 feet away, with flash. (His is more densely populated, viewable at


    The other coincidence is that the “populace” perched at the top of the same porch column that two recent cicada exuvia separately favored. (plugs coming …)

    “Closeup of Molted Cicada Exoskeleton (and More Info)”– http://whilldtkwriter.blogspot.com/2016/07/closeup-of-molted-cicada-exoskeleton.html

    “New Molted Cicada Exoskeleton with Wasps”– http://whilldtkwriter.blogspot.com/2016/08/new-molted-cicada-exoskeleton-with-wasps.html


    October 6, 2016 at 2:47 PM

    • Hi, Wanda. I probably moved in to between a foot and a foot and a half away so I could get good details. I also used flash for extra light in that partly shaded place.

      It’s good that you’ve been seeing these paper wasps too, along with cicada exuviae. Thanks for your links.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2016 at 11:07 PM

  12. That’s way too close for me – macro or telephoto lens?


    October 6, 2016 at 7:48 PM

  13. Great shot Steve. We get lots of paper wasps here, and every year I get at least one sting. But I leave their nests be as they are also pollinators ..


    October 8, 2016 at 12:46 AM

  14. Love, love, love this shot. Just so superb! 😀


    October 9, 2016 at 9:32 PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: