Nobody Knows the Devil

Northern Paper Wasp head

Those are antennae, not horns. The stinging members among the Hymenoptera (Greek for “membrane” “wing”) can be scary creatures, especially for those with allergies. Some species are more aggressive (hello, Yellow Jacket) than this Common or Northern Paper Wasp (Polistes fuscatus), but mess with their papery honeycomb-like nests —and thus their offspring — and you have a problem. When I shoot an individual such as this female wasp (identifiable by the straight ends of the antennae) who was feeding almost absent-mindedly on some parsley, it can be fairly menacing at first blush, especially compared to the tiny, benign flies that usually are buzzing nearby, en masse. So I make sure to remember a little respect goes a long way: no quick, sudden movements and try not to come down directly overhead. With my subject three or four inches away from the end of my lens, any worries I have transfer to the steadiness of my hands. I search for the elusive focus in the thin depth of field, and then I depress the shutter. And if I’m a little lucky, I capture the face of an insect.


2 thoughts on “Nobody Knows the Devil

  1. Another great shot… Looks like a CGI monster. How long do you normally have when you’re this close before your subject takes off?

    1. Good question. It depends on what the insect is doing. For instance this wasp was feeding, so it wasn’t really going to fly off at any moment, but it was crawling around on the plant in a stop and go way. So I had to time it. Some insects at rest will let me get right up close and take a bunch of shots (as long as I am careful not to startle them). Some buzz off before I can even raise my camera. Sometimes it is a matter of just waiting them out also, or stalking them, until they stay at rest for a while. It can be frustrating, but the payoff is worth the patience spent.

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