#WaspFlower – Join the Photo Challenge FOR SCIENCE!

A beautiful parasitoid wasp on a flower (there’s also a bonus beetle if you look!) I haven’t identified the species yet – This is the kind of photo #WaspFlower and the Big Wasp Survey are looking for. Instructions are at the bottom. (Credit: Me)

So if you’ve read my wasp article, checked out my article on how to encourage wasps (and other biodiversity) in your gardens, followed my Twitter feed where I constantly talk about wasps or are Professor Seirian Sumner who gets constantly inundated with messages from me about wasps you’ll know that my current autistic obsession is bees…

If I’m not mistaken this was one of our rarest UK bumblebees, the shrill carder bee, Bombus sylvarum (dark stripes on the abdomen and a slightly ginger end make that a likely ID) But…we don’t want photos of bees on flowers! #WaspFlower! (Credit: Me)

…Nah, it’s obviously wasps.

NOT ON A FLOWER! X – DISQUALIFIED – As beautiful as she is (and I suspect she was a Vespula vulgaris, the common wasp, queen (she was huge) this is not the kind of image #WaspFlower is looking for! (Credit: Me)

The thing is wasps are loathed, hated, dismissed, disregarded and for no known reason beyond the fact that a few species can sting you and everyone tells you to dislike them. Honestly, I delved DEEP into wasp hatred for my article and the only explanation I have is, in essence, an oral tradition of irrational hatred. We tell each other wasps are bad and dangerous with no evidence.

This is a wasp WITH a flower. Not a wasp ON a flower. So I suspect this, too, is not what The Big Wasp Survey are looking for but…I dunno. (Credit: Me)

Since discovering this passion for the wasp or the #WaspLove (join us on Twitter, we love wasps). It has been my mission to photograph them. As much as I am happy to photograph every wasp I see your standard yellow-jackets are not my mission. I want parasitoid wasps and ichneumon wasps. These are the wasps that lay their eggs in other things, other species’ larvae, other wasps’ nests, bee nests, sometimes they paralyse prey, stick an egg in or on them, lock them in a cell and let their baby just eat the shit out of this paralysed, but still living, invertebrate.

…I think this is a wasp? But honestly it confuses me! Either way it’s on a nettle (and not the flowers) so it DOESN’T COUNT! (Credit: Me)

They’re metal as FUCK and I love them! So I’ve been on the hunt for them.

Only…

Well…

They’re camera shy!

On a leaf – not a flower, again! (Credit: Me)

Not surprisingly for a creatures whose main mission is to sneak an egg into something and bugger off I have ‘seen’ plenty. Including some absolutely fantastic specimens of what must be some of the largest wasps we get in the UK.

Here’s the thing. Wasps, even these parasitoid wasps might ‘prey’ on other invertebrates (and do a tremendous job at it, too. Their pest-control services are exceptional) but they don’t, for the most part, eat the prey. It’s for their larvae to eat.

Most wasps are nectivorous so they eat plant nectar or sugary liquids, much like bees. That’s why they get into your can of coke at the picnic and you accidentally swallow a wasp. They’re not trying to annoy you, they just want a bit of grub.

So, since I’m busy, out there, whenever the weather is fair, snapping all wildlife, vertebrate and invertebrate that I can I am also looking for wasps on flowers.

It’s NEAR the bramble flower, but not on it! Plus the wasp is a bit blurry – I’d disqualify it, but I have exacting standards of wasp photograph perfection! (Credit: Me)

Why? As part of the Big Wasp Survey!

This is your chance to do a few things.

  1. Learn to appreciate wasps a little more.
  2. Become a legitimate scientists by engaging with a citizen science project
  3. Have an excuse to go outside and take pretty pictures.

Understanding and researching wasps as pollinators will only help us to understand wasps and their role in our ecosystems more.

A bit more beetle than in the lead image, but the wasp is in focus, the flower is in focus and this is the kind of image you should post to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #WaspFlower to be a scientific photographer for a day! (Credit: Me)

We’ve already had a huge rehabilitation of the bee, and everyone loves butterflies, but invertebrate life, wasps included, is declining at an alarming rate. If we do not understand the plants they pollinate we can’t understand what we may lose should they disappear. We can’t let you know their true value and why we should consider them valuable to us and our natural world.

So, come and join the Big Wasp Survey, take your snaps of wasps on flowers, tag them on twitter or instagram with #WaspFlower (you could add #WaspLove, too!) and help us learn the amazing pollinating value of our wasps!

VISIT BIGWASPSURVEY.ORG FOR MORE INFORMATION (Image used without permission)
Some instructions on what The Big Wasp Survey are looking for…and NOT looking for! (Image used without permission)

Want to know how best to look for wasps? I recently wrote a guide on hedge-spotting available here.

You can also read about how learning to love invertebrates changed my view of the world here.

You can read my lengthy article on wasps here.

Or my guide on how to make your garden more wasp-friendly and biodiverse here.

For more information about this project visit BigWaspSurvey.Org.

Published by Karl Anthony Mercer

Like a dark-chocolate fountain at a weight loss party, Karl Anthony Mercer is an under-utilised river of bittersweetness. When not busy researching or writing about any and all non-fiction topics for 'We Lack Discipline' Karl can often be found walking, staring at wildlife or writing poetry.

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