Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Wasp on prairie parsley

with 33 comments

I photographed this wasp on prairie parsley (Polytaenia texana) at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on May 6th.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 24, 2018 at 4:41 AM

33 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Beautiful shot


    June 24, 2018 at 4:57 AM

  2. That’s an outstanding photo!


    June 24, 2018 at 8:24 AM

    • I was happy to get it, given the way wasps tend to keep moving around. I took this picture of the wasp at 1/500 of a second, others as fast as 1/800.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 24, 2018 at 9:20 AM

  3. I agree with Montucky! Fantastic shot!


    June 24, 2018 at 9:22 AM

  4. Great shot, nice to study the detail without getting too close to this wasp. But he’s certainly a very jazzy-looking customer. And apparently very hungry – – he’s not waiting for the flowers to open up all the way. I know we don’t have prairie parsley around here, but it resembles the wild parsnip that’s now common all around NY.

    Robert Parker

    June 24, 2018 at 2:01 PM

    • Rightly or wrongly, I never worry about getting close to wasps. My feeling is that they’re busy going about their business and I’m busy going about mine. To the best of my recollection, I’ve never gotten stung by a wasp.

      The prairie parsley flowers are deceptive: the most open ones shown here are about as open as they ever get. As you pointed out, this wasp didn’t feel the need to wait for flowers to open that much.

      At https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/105364.html I found that the wild parsnip you mentioned, and in which I indeed see a resemblance, is an invasive plant from Eurasia whose sap “can cause painful, localized burning and blistering of the skin.” Fortunately, Texas prairie parsley doesn’t do that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 24, 2018 at 2:26 PM

      • This parsnip is everywhere upstate now. When it’s young, it looks like celery.
        I leave bees and wasps to their business, and rarely have a problem, but can’t claim I’ve never been stung, usually ground nesting bees – – they’re not supposed to be very aggressive, but they seem to hate lawnmowers. For a guy that’s photographed so many flowers, that’s a serious streak of luck you’ve got going!

        Robert Parker

        June 24, 2018 at 2:40 PM

        • I’m sorry to hear about the wild parsnip invasion. Texas has similarly suffered from a different member of that botanical family, Rapistrum rugosum, known as wild mustard and bastard cabbage.

          I did get stung by a bee once, but not while taking pictures. I have to hope that being caught up in photographing nature grants me immunity from wasps and bees. That’s unfortunately not the case with fire ants, which are a menace here. The most common affliction, though, is bites from chiggers, which are too small to see with the naked eye; the bites are itchy in inverse proportion to the critters’ size.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 25, 2018 at 7:59 AM

  5. Nicely done! Love the detail!

    Reed Andariese

    June 24, 2018 at 2:02 PM

  6. Okay, for future reference; You should AVOID wasps!


    June 24, 2018 at 3:27 PM

  7. I love the wasp’s colors, Steve. Apparently it is very color-conscious, as it chose to land and feed on a plant that matched its apparel. 😊


    June 24, 2018 at 4:27 PM

    • Wasps of those colors and that design are pretty common here in Austin. You raise a good question about whether the wasp is choosing its plants by their colors. My apparel, now that’s another story.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 24, 2018 at 7:55 PM

  8. Stunning, and I hope not stung in the process!

    Susan Scheid

    June 24, 2018 at 8:39 PM

  9. Since wasps eat webworms, I am happy to see them. As long as they don’t nest too close to my door or the pathway to my door. Many years ago, my grandson and my best friend were stung as they traversed the walkway to my front door. I’ve been carefully enrolling them in the Wasp Relocation Program ever since.

    Judy Baumann

    June 25, 2018 at 7:22 AM

    • I like the way you put it: Wasp Relocation Program, or WRP. That’s much better than OUCH. And yes, wasps do keep down the webworms.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 25, 2018 at 7:52 AM

  10. Stunning macro!


    June 27, 2018 at 8:12 PM

  11. Hey a Steve .. great shot. His markings look like a painter has been at work. He is shaped much like a paper wasp ..


    June 28, 2018 at 2:23 PM

  12. I’m constantly confusing this prairie parsley with Polytaenia nuttalli. I think this parsley might be the species that’s beginning to form seeds here now, but I’m not sure.

    What is sure is how wonderfully well you’ve captured the wasp; the clarity is remarkable. Last year, I finally identified a cicada killer wasp, but it disappeared from the neighborhood almost immediately. The description of its life cycle suggested it or its kin would be back this year, and sure enough, it’s shown up, hovering around in the same place. It never lands, so a photo’s going to be tough, but I’ll give it a try.


    June 29, 2018 at 8:05 AM

    • I found identification of prairie parsley confusing, too. Then I looked in the compendious Shinners and Mahler’s Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas and learned that some botanists think there are two species while others believe there’s only one. As you’ve heard me say many times, I’ll always be much more a photographer than a botanist. In this case I was happy to get a few good pictures of the wasp, with the prairie parsley of secondary importance. I hope you have as good a result with your cicada killer wasp, even as I commiserate with you about an insect that doesn’t land.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2018 at 8:33 AM

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: