Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘wasp

Insects on goldenrod

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From the morning of November 9th on the shore of the Riata Trace Pond, here are two views of flowering goldenrod plants, probably Solidago altissima. In the top photograph you may strain your eyes to make out the Ailanthus webworm moth (which I didn’t even notice when I took the picture), but you sure can’t miss the umbrella paper wasp (Polistes carolina) shown below.


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UPDATE. Last month I reported on the way the public schools in Wellesley, Massachusetts, were purposely segregating students by race. Now I’ve learned about intentional racial segregation in a New York City junior high school. Needless to say—except that I find myself having to say it—racial segregation has been illegal in American schools ever since the Brown vs. Board of Education decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 28, 2021 at 4:24 AM

One more take on woolly croton

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On a woolly croton plant (Croton capitatus) in Bastrop State Park on September 23rd I noticed that a green lynx spider (Peucetia viridans) had caught what appears to be a potter wasp, seemingly in the genus Parancistrocerus, from the subfamily Eumeninae.

One of the great existential questions of our time, at least in the Anglosphere (i.e. the English-speaking parts of the world), is how to spell the adjectival form of wool: is it woolly or is it wooly? Dictionaries accept both, though the form with a double-l seems to be favored, for the same reason we write really rather than realy and totally rather than totaly. For people who come to woolly as non-native speakers, its non-literal meanings must seem strange. Merriam-Webster gives these:

2a: lacking in clearness or sharpness of outline
woolly TV picture

b: marked by mental confusion
woolly thinking

3: marked by boisterous roughness or lack of order or restraint
where the West is still woolly— Paul Schubert—used especially in the phrase wild and woolly

Though my pictures have usually come from the wild and my posts have sometimes been wild and woolly, I trust you haven’t found any instances of really totally woolly thinking in them.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 16, 2021 at 4:37 AM

Paper wasps at nest hanging from a dry cattail leaf

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On September 14th at the Riata Trace Pond I found some paper wasps (Polistes sp.) building their nest on a dry cattail leaf. They kept on with their work and I with mine, which included photographing them.

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I recently came across Shane Trotter’s good article “Remedial Education for All,” which I recommend to you. Here are a couple of passages from the article:

The unfortunate reality is that ability and upbringing really do matter. Even the best teachers usually won’t make a dent against a home environment that does not value education. This is not to suggest that schools should ignore the needs of students who are less talented, have harder home lives, or come from less academic pedigrees. Indeed, it is necessary and wonderful that teachers are passionate about trying to reach such students. But we can’t expect teachers to reliably compensate for large voids. Even more, we can’t stunt the development of all students in the name of this naive pursuit.

As calls for equality of outcome gain steam and schools make plans to reduce educational gaps that have been exacerbated by 18 months of virtual learning, we’d do well to remember the predictable costs of pretending we can make everything fair. Mass education will never be a perfect fit for everyone. Schools have to identify the competencies and attitudes that are most valuable and optimize in a way that brings the most possible students to high, yet reachable standards. When high school students fall too far behind and decide they aren’t interested in catching up, they should be able to pursue a vocational track that pushes them to develop other meaningful skills. These students will be far more likely to apply themselves if we give them relevant options like work apprenticeships, trade programs, and so on.

At its core, this is about maintaining the integrity of the learning environment. Too many in education today have no sense of the value that certain skills and habits of mind can have in people’s lives (or that these are the skills of which a high school diploma is supposed to indicate mastery). Education, to them, is just a prop to be given out in hopes of advancing a person’s social positioning. They are willing to compromise standards at every turn in order to manufacture achievements that society has predetermined as “good.” But in the process, they devalue those outcomes and the surrounding educational culture.

I’ve been pointing out many of the same problems with education for years, even decades, as you’ve also heard in the last two posts.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 16, 2021 at 4:36 AM

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Not just Lucifer Falls

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At Robert H. Treman State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region on August 1st I didn’t only photograph Lucifer Falls and other waterfalls. Here are some non-watery scenes from the western (upper) end of the park.

I can’t not see a bell.

A hornet nest.

Living, dead, and inanimate together.

Oh, the lichens….

This reminded me of those old ruined homesteads out in the country where the only thing that’s left standing is a chimney.

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2019 at 4:39 AM

Wasp-on-the-mountain

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A few weeks ago you got a close look at the inflorescence of snow-on-the-prairie. Now you’re getting a look at its sister species, snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia marginata). On September 2nd I’d been driving home after photographing at two other locations in northwest Austin when I spotted a few of these familiar plants and decided to stop. Once I got close, I saw that a wasp was busy working the flowers. Like some other insects I’ve seen on flowers, this one kept moving pretty quickly, so I used a high shutter speed, 1/800 of a second, to keep from ending up with a blurred image of the wasp.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 14, 2018 at 4:44 AM

Wasp on prairie parsley

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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

A wasp dragging a spider

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Along the Muir Lake Trail in Cedar Park on July 3rd I noticed a colorful and energetic wasp dragging a spider that it had immobilized. When I stepped closer to try to take a photograph the wasp went away, but I took a stance at a medium distance from the spider and waited for the wasp to return. It came and went several times, continuing with its task each time, and I managed to get some sharply focused pictures in spite of the frequent movement.

UPDATE: Thanks to John S. Ascher at BugGuide.net, I can now say this predator appears to be Tachypompilus ferrugineus, known as the rusty spider wasp, red-tailed spider hunter, or red-tailed spider wasp.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 23, 2017 at 4:45 AM

Paper wasps

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paper-wasps-working-on-nest-7121

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

Goers in the snow

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Orange-Black Insect on Snow-on-the-Mountain 7191

While taking pictures of snow-on-the-mountain (Euphorbia marginata) in Cedar Park on August 30th I couldn’t help noticing lots of insects coming to the flowers. Some tiny ones were on a par with the plants’ small flowers. In contrast, this female tarantula hawk* (Pepsis spp.), at perhaps two inches in length (5cm), was by far the largest visitor I saw, and its quick movements made picture-taking difficult. Also apparently difficult to bear is the pain felt if one of these wasps stings you. An article I read says that the best reaction is to “lie down and start screaming, because few if any people could maintain verbal and physical coordination after getting stung by one of these things.” Fortunately I have no personal experience with that. The wasp went about its business feeding on the flowers’ nectar, I went about my business taking pictures of the wasp, and although in close company, never we twain did meet.


* Thanks to a volunteer at BugGuide.net for identifying this wasp as a female in the genus Pepsis.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 9, 2016 at 4:56 AM

Strangeness

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This is likely Rosa carolina but the fruit are distorted because of the Spiny rose gall wasp (Diplolepis bicolor).

At Illinois Beach State Park on June 9th I came across the unusual red things shown in today’s photograph. After I submitted the picture to the Illinois Native Plant Society, Rachel, who is the organization’s secretary, e-mailed me back to say that the plant is likely Rosa carolina and that the spiky red things are galls created by the spiny rose gall wasp, Diplolepis bicolor. Pretty strange, huh?

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 27, 2016 at 4:33 AM

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