Evermore a Wasp

A Modest Thank You to Foster Care Alumni Volunteers at Camp to Belong

head on view of velvet ant on milkweed leaf

I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s post about what you can do to help children in foster care. I wrote:

As always, it was a non-stop week of meeting amazing children who have endured things so many of us cannot begin to imagine, yet are so vibrant and so much stronger than they appear…

That “so many of us” is an indirect acknowledgement of those who can imagine such things because they have lived them. One of the great things about Camp to Belong – Massachusetts this year, was having foster care alumni volunteers. They are all wonderful people serving as role models for the children who need their example the most. I’m very proud and grateful to know and be associated with them.

As for our featured insect, since I used the metaphor of a wasp searching for nectar (i.e. knowledge) yesterday, I thought I would present a wasp today. I think it might be appropriate in that this “velvet ant” is actually a wingless wasp though we might not ever realize it, much like we might not realize someone is a foster care alumna. The consequences of living part or all of a childhood in foster care can be invisible to other people in adulthood. We might see an ant, but they are wasps drinking a special nectar, a unique wisdom; they fly whether we can see their wings or not.

profile of velvet ant (out of focus)

A few notes about velvet ants (that are totally unrelated to foster care alumni): the males actually do have wings.  The “velvet” part of the name comes from their fuzzy appearance (although this specimen does not appear to be particularly fuzzy). They have an extremely painful sting and handling them is very ill-advised. To some people they are known as “cow-killers” because supposedly if they sting a cow it will fall over in a pained panic, potentially injuring itself beyond recovery and forcing the owner to euthanize the animal. This is the first velvet ant I have noticed in my yard, and as you might guess I was delighted. Unfortunately, it moved actively and erratically on the milkweed plant upon which I found it leaving me with a sad paucity of shots. The featured shot was the best I could do, and the other one was my “second best” (primarily shown here for identification purposes). The black and red variety of velvet ant seems to have the most notoriety, and having seen them (in a butterfly house), I can attest to the natural beauty that you’d expect to make something notable.


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