Wolf at the Door: A Beewolf (Philanthus gibbous) and its prey.

Beewolf (Philanthus gibbosus) with Lasioglossum sweat bee prey. South Carolina, USA. ┬ęClay Bolt | beautifulbees.org | claybolt.com 2014

Beewolf (Philanthus gibbosus) with Lasioglossum sweat bee prey. South Carolina, USA. ┬ęClay Bolt | beautifulbees.org | claybolt.com 2014

It is often difficult for viewers to appreciate the time and energy that goes into making a seemingly simple natural history photograph. For the past two years I have been photographing the lives of Lasioglossum sweat bees that have been nesting on my driveway. These tiny bees, which are smaller than a grain of rice, are often bombarded by a variety of predators and parasites. This past May, A Beewolf (Philanthus gibbosus) (one of many in time) moved into the nesting aggregation and began to take prey. I immediately began to document the process. These wasps capture bees (most often when returning to the nest) and deliver a paralyzing sting into the bee’s central nervous system. The immobilized bee is then taken almost immediately into the wasp’s nest where it will be stored as living food for a developing young wasp. One larval Beewolf will consume several bees before reaching maturity. After spending days in the hot sun, groveling around on my driveway (ha) I finally made a nice, although seemingly simple image of a wasp with her prey after she paused on a blade of grass before returning to her nest. It only came after a series of near misses. This image illustrates how the bee is held for transport with the Beewolf’s middle legs.

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