There’s a Smaller World (Parasitoid Wasp, “Parasitica”)

tiny dark wasp on pinkish-tinged white flower petal

Uneven: a parasitoid wasp has a partially missing antennae.

In general, “parasite” evokes a pretty negative reaction, and when speaking of actual parasitic lifeforms, for a lot of people, that reaction involves a healthy amount of skin-crawling. But as it happens there are a lot of parasites that have nothing to do with people. Included among them are a large swath of wasps who are the nightmares of other insects and arthropods rather than humans. Many of them are very tiny, and are likely just another “gnat” to (just another) human. This one was meandering on a rhododendron flower eating and cleaning itself and, incidentally, being fairly cooperative with a photographer. (Four more color photos below.)

tiny dark wasp with hairy antennae near filament

A parasitoid wasp goes to feed at the heart of a rhododendron flower.

small dark wasp at edge of white flower petal

Parasitoid wasp on a rhododendron petal.

tiny wasp cleaning antennae at edge of white flower petal

A parasitoid wasp grooms its antennae on a rhododendron petal.

parasitoid wasp at edge of white petal

Tiny world: a parasitoid wasp at the edge of a rhododendron flower.

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