Nature's Place

A Silent Death …

Or a loving embrace? Either way, a most unusual meeting.

*

Out in the field at sundown with a strong wind blowing I came across a protected area that had a few different creatures sheltering in the grass tops, off the ground. The Orange Wasp was the most noticeable beside the gang of small green golden Nomad bees that I often find roosting here.

Usually the Orange Wasp is so skittish it is gone as soon as I see it, as if the act of cognising it is registered by the wasp and taken as a signal to fly. But the strong wind did interrupt that process this day. The Orange Wasp remained in the relative shelter as the sun went down behind the distant trees, and the wind continued to blow.

I focused on the Wasp, since there is usually no chance of a shot, and watched as it climbed the grass to the top. On the way it ran into a gang of small bees and caused something of a stir. Just one bee remaining behind, as if undisturbed by the wasp’s presence. The others moved off to another grass stem nearby.

And the wasp was curious of the one remaining, aware there was something there and pushing through the grasses to do what, I don’t know – taste, smell or otherwise sense the small bee. It wasn’t aggressive by any gesture or appearance, these wasps are more vegetarian than not, so if it wasn’t hungry the bee was safe. After a short while of the wasp probing the bee the bee moved on up the stem, better safe than sorry – though I think a bee knows no sorrow, just the programming of survival and all it entails. But perhaps, occasionally, a small creature will show signs of self consciousness.

It was nearly dark with some light from the falling sun still getting through the clouds and trees at times, wind blowing as it was – see the bee on a stem in the blurred background in one picture – wind blown into the frame. When there’s time and opportunity I will endeavour to include any sun rise or setting for the background, but it was mostly a case of get what you can while you can. So I shot away at the wasp I was focused on.

*

After I had enough of that and she didn’t seem to be doing anything different so the shots would all be the same or versions of … I looked up the grass stem to where the bee had gone and there was another Orange Wasp facing my way with the bee behind it, and something else.

It was difficult to see now but on closer inspection it became clear a spider had a grip of the small green golden Nomad bee and I wondered if the wasp had any involvement, as in awareness or reaction to what was happening to the bee – it was dying in the grip of a Crab Spider, right next to the wasp, they wait in just such places for just such opportunities.

But no, the wasp seemed entirely unaware of the dying bee, or the spider, and proceeded on down the grass stem as the other proceeded on up it. As the bee died in the grip of the spider the two wasps met an inch below and clearly recognised each other as their own kind and made ‘inquiries’ of each other.

Touching and turning towards each other they were clearly communicating until eventually they came together on the same side of the grass stem and touched heads and ‘beaks’. A form of caress perhaps, or exchange of information of a kind.

Tending only to what mattered to them, not a consideration for the dying bee or predatory spider.

However, it was clearly not an accidental embrace, either one. It never is.

Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture to enlarge in a new tab

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34 Responses

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  1. Sam Flowers said, on 20/04/2012 at 1:02 pm

    I would say wow but even that word seems inadequate.

  2. sweffling said, on 26/02/2012 at 3:30 am

    Wonderful shots and a great story to accompany them. Lovely to find someone else who likes insects:)

    • Mark said, on 26/02/2012 at 3:46 pm

      Thanks S. They are everywhere, can’t do without them, might as well love ’em. :)

  3. jamyunmiun Micheal said, on 23/02/2012 at 1:21 pm

    dramatics…thanks Mark..as always..nice

  4. Kathryn said, on 22/02/2012 at 11:13 pm

    Wow! Your photos are amazing!

  5. bareego said, on 22/02/2012 at 10:54 pm

    great story telling there and awesome shots, very moving :O)

  6. Lunar Euphoria said, on 22/02/2012 at 2:17 pm

    What a peculiar evening in the life of a wasp. Thank you for sharing that story.

    I’m reminded of coming home from work through busy traffic and an accident to receive a welcome home kiss.

    • Mark said, on 23/02/2012 at 12:52 am

      It’s not unlike how we are, without the emotion.

  7. 1stjoeyanna said, on 22/02/2012 at 11:40 am

    The wasps looked beautiful but scary to me, until I learned they were mostly Vegan! LOL Beautiful incredible photos. I Must go back and have a look see at the Bees untimely death. :) Smiley not for the poor bee, but for your stunning captivation!

    • Mark said, on 22/02/2012 at 1:52 pm

      Yes, they eat nectar but I’m sure they would eat what was necessary given the circumstances – like us. You see the paddle like thing attached to the foot of one of the wasps in a couple pics, it’s the means of how a certain OZ Orchid propagates – can’t remember the names now – and is attached when the Wasp visits the flower.

      • 1stjoeyanna said, on 22/02/2012 at 2:20 pm

        I went back and studied the photos and seen the spider on the bee. I want to reblog this, hope you don’t mind.

  8. Peter Wilson said, on 22/02/2012 at 8:27 am

    Excellent ‘photos as usual, with a great commentary,
    well done,
    regards,
    Pete Wilson (Annan UK)

  9. Sue McB said, on 22/02/2012 at 6:39 am

    Wonderful shots. I do so love macro and insects. I’m wondering what gear you use, in particular what lens?

    • Mark said, on 22/02/2012 at 1:45 pm

      Thanks Sue. It’s all in https://beingmark.com/macro-illustrated/ I use achromats on the FZ and various lenses on the G1 but the Oly f2/50 is probably the best – so far – though I always use an achromat to limit the working distance for better control.

  10. Amazing photos! I love macro photography and I am going to be working on expanding my insect photography when the weather heats up. Stop by and say hi :)

    • Mark said, on 22/02/2012 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks Christina. No doubt there will be plenty of opportunity soon enough.

  11. cindydyer said, on 22/02/2012 at 3:27 am

    Wow, Mark. That is an amazing story and amazing collection of photos. Just amazing!

    • Mark said, on 22/02/2012 at 1:34 pm

      Thanks Cindy. It’s amazing what you can come across in the field, circumstances often precipitate events, and spiders are a most adept predator.

      • cindydyer said, on 22/02/2012 at 3:14 pm

        Your work is just gorgeous, Mark. I’ve been following your postings for quite some time now and have thoroughly read what kind of equipment you use, etc. As you know, I love photographing insects, too, but I don’t get the quality you do with my extreme closeup images. Is this what you do for a living or is this a hobby for you? You’re really, really good at it!

        • Mark said, on 23/02/2012 at 1:03 am

          Thanks Cindy. It’s what I do. But if you mean do I get money for it the answer is ‘very little’, though I am looking into a couple possibilities for irregular income from it. Macro just isn’t ‘up’ there with the popular genres like landscape and people portrait/action. It would be nice if it paid its way but I won’t bet on it, can’t stand the self promotion thingy any more. :)

          • cindydyer said, on 23/02/2012 at 6:05 am

            I hear ya on the self promotion thingy! Putting together my upcoming show has been a lesson in self promotion, though. I’ve been marketing like mad—to what end, I don’t know, but I have invested so much money and time into it that I think NOW is the time to “sing my song.”

            Your work is SPECTACULAR. I would love to see you publish a book—whether it is “just” a beautiful tome or a how-to-tech book on insect/macro photography. If you’re ever interested in doing something like that, I would love to help you with it.

            • Mark said, on 26/02/2012 at 3:28 pm

              Thanks Cindy, a generous offer. Will get back to you soon on that by email.

  12. Deremer Studios said, on 22/02/2012 at 3:11 am

    Incidentally, did you use a ring flash for these shots?

  13. Deremer Studios said, on 22/02/2012 at 3:10 am

    Great macro photos Mark! thanks for sharing!

  14. Bill Mackie said, on 22/02/2012 at 3:06 am

    Lovely pics Mark….tell me, are you still using your G1 to take these?
    \thanks for the posting.
    Regards Bill

    • Mark said, on 22/02/2012 at 1:26 pm

      Thanks Bill. I still favour the FZ for impromptu shooting. The G1 and various lenses plus achromats when I know there will be time for composure.


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