Nature's Place

Mason’s of Old

It’s ‘not’ just one more example of our own true nature, where we come from and how we do what we do. These wasps are known as potters or masons, for their working of mud to make their nests. One of our oldest building materials to provide for our oldest need, shelter or protection from the ‘elements’.

These creatures handle this material with a mastery, in their way. They will find a source of water with nearby suitable earth for mixing to a malleable consistency for their structural needs. Little mud huts or domes, or nests where they lay their eggs to give their young the best chance of survival they can.

They are a wonder to watch and it’s wise not to get in their flight path. Like most creatures they have their habits and anything that interrupts the pattern is subject to scrutiny. Habit has the advantage of when it is broken the attention or intelligence is alarmed to the fact, something’s out of line. Some habit is a good thing.

And when the mud has done its job and the young wasp breaks out it breaks down again to become once more just a part of it all that is available to the whole for whatever need. It’s another of the sustainable practices of nature that we have distorted in our search for security and permanence. But everything ends, even our steel and concrete ways.

Mason wasps never get stuck in the mud, inside or out. They never hold on to any notion of security, based on some fear for the future borne in the past. And some don’t emerge from the mud nest.

Stuck is not an option. Dead is ok. Free is better.


Old walls crumble, new horizons appear.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge

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Visitor to the Mantis Nest

The Mantis nest had a couple Earwig visitors ‘listening’ at the surface the other day. Or so it looked to me. The same nest the Ichneumon Wasp was parasitising. No rest for the prey here it seems.

They both took different positions and stopped as I watched, I got the impression they were ‘sensing’ for signs of life that might mean food. It’s odd to see two earwigs together at the top of a five foot stalk of grass. I suspect the wasp did the same in its way, sensing for signs of life – food for the young – with the ovipositor before planting her eggs.

Now what does that remind me of? Dinner time anyone?

© Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge

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Ichneumon Wasp – Laying on Mantis

First picture is just for size perspective. The Wasp is 3-4mm long and the ovipositor is thrice as long, standing on a one inch diameter Mantis nest, a globular foamy thing you have probably seen before.

The Wasp is parasitizing the Mantis nest, or Ootheca, by first sensing with her ovipositor, smell or taste – just like us, there is something there to feed her young – every mother is concerned for the welfare of her young. The Ootheca is where the Mantis lays her eggs and they incubate. The wasp has another idea, instead of hunting something for her young to eat and building a nest she does it easy and lays in a ready made nest, the Mantis’s.

She was so occupied I was able to manipulate the grass she was on to get the shot; otherwise she would probably not have let me close. Most of these small creatures are single minded when it comes to fundaments such as eating, shelter and reproduction. And unlike people they don’t make a problem of it, don’t get emotional or worrisome. Just doing what it is moved to do or must, no spanner of thought in the works.

The Mantis nest is one inch in diameter and five feet up on a stem of grass in a field of grass and there is nothing to brace myself or the camera for a shot. This is what I use the stick for, amongst other things. But the first thing is to go still inside. Inside comes first, if I am still inside I am still outside – as much as possible. The value being I am not distracted by thoughts of anything but what matters to getting the shot. And what matters first is stability, of posture or platform, or focus – the inner then the outer. When I quiet my mind this way it also means I am less likely to get anxious or stressed in the often difficult process of capturing the image.

When I have stability of focus – as much as possible – I accommodate the fact there is no perfection standing in a field trying to hold a camera at the top of a five foot long stick absolutely geo-stationary – it’s not possible. This is where the minute but inevitable movement has to be controlled since it can’t be eliminated, even with short working distance and lens and bug relatively stabilized in the same hand, so I move the plane of focus – less than 1mm deep – through the plane of the subject at the angle I want to capture it and shoot just as I judge it is where I want it. And it is a judgment for me. With my gear it is sometimes like shooting in the dark but you can see from my pix it works, and the keeper rate is not bad.

And if this old body can do it with my cam any body can.

© Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge

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Predator – Shield Bug

Came across this fellow recently.

Feeding on a bigger bug.

After a short while the weight became too much and its food dropped to the ground. So I arranged a few more shots.

I put it back where I found it and it immediately went in search of food. And found it in a resident Longhorn Beetle.

The Longhorn Beetle was aware of the bug but was slow moving and it didn’t get away.

Though the LB eventually made a ‘run’ for it.

The SB was tenacious. And the LB walked off into the bush with the SB in tow siphoning off its innards.


© Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge

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