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