The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

A Queen sleeps in the woods

I woke her, ever so gently, and only for a moment…

and then I tucked her back into bed.

Although she rests now, this bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata)  has a big job ahead of her in the spring.  With a belly full of eggs fertilized last summer, the warmer weather will soon call her to rise and begin constructing a new wood-paper nest and to lay the eggs that will eventually become her first workers.  Her daughters will then take on the task of enlarging and defending the nest, collecting food and eventually, feeding the next brood of young.

There was something about the stillness of her, combined with her sheer bulk (she is a very large insect, nearly 30mm in length), that seemed both terrible and lovely, and somewhat awe-inspiring.  I was honoured to have been able to take a quiet moment to appreciate her beauty.

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16 responses to “A Queen sleeps in the woods

  1. myrmecos March 30, 2010 at 6:47 PM

    Yeah, I’m with Ted. Nice shot of the wasp. It’s such a tastefully colored insect, too.

    • TGIQ March 30, 2010 at 8:02 PM

      Thanks, Alex. She is a beaut, huh?

      The more cool/photogenic subjects I come across, the more I covet a REAL camera. With LENSES. And MANUAL FOCUS.

      I really wanted to take more photos of her than I did…but I didn’t want to disturb her for too long.

  2. peteryeeles March 31, 2010 at 12:52 AM

    Yep, I agree! Great looking insect; I’ve always loved vespids.

  3. MObugs41 March 31, 2010 at 10:01 AM

    Gorgeous hornet. My son was fortunate enough to find a large bald-faced hornet nest in November. He managed to get it out of the 40 foot tree it was in. He placed it in the front of the truck with him to bring it home to me. The heater in the truck revived the wasps just enough so that they came out of the hive and were crawling around on it. (About 12 of them) He freaked, stopped the truck, kicked the hive out onto the ground and proceeded to call me and tell me where I could retrieve the *&^%# nest it I wanted it! After laughing uncontrollably for 5 minutes I drove to the spot and picked up the nest. Those wasps continued to try and protect their hive even though they had went through several nights of sub-freezing temperatures, and could barely move. It was somewhat endearing, this built-in instinct to protect above all else!

  4. jason March 31, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    Holy cow! That face shot is breathtaking. And what a beautiful description of those brief moments.

  5. mthew March 31, 2010 at 7:46 PM

    I am an great fan of the wood-pulp paper they make their nests out of. Usually around here (Brooklyn, NY) it is light grayish and streaky like good bacon, but once I was given some that was found in Prospect Park that was a faded burgundy.

  6. MObugs41 March 31, 2010 at 7:57 PM

    Geek—we stored the nest in our greenhouse until just a few days ago. I brought it in and put it in the basement. The thing still smells badly from all the decaying little bodies up inside. We plugged the hole with paper towels, but it still reeks. Not sure how long it takes for that smell to go away.

  7. Pingback: Ichneumonid wasps « Fall To Climb

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