Odontomachus clarus nurse worker tenderly caring for a larva (Arizona).
A defining feature of many social insects is an unusual antennal form. The base segment is elongated such that the antennae take on a shape rather similar to a human arm. What’s up with this “elbowed” appearance?
Quite simply, the kink allows the insect to feel with her antennae what she is holding in her mouth. A useful trick for social insects that care for their young!
(In case you’re wondering, I am currently assembling a lecture on ants for the IB109 class…)
For those of you who dislike spiders, I’d like to introduce you to your new favorite friend:
Pison mud wasp on her nest (Victoria, Australia)
The genus Pison refers to a small group of crabronid wasps containing about 200 species worldwide. These insects raise their young on a diet of living, but paralyzed, spiders. Paralyzed spiders don’t decay, staying fresh while the wasp grubs eat them alive. It’s a pretty gruesome death, being chewed up in the dark and unable to move. Not that spiders themselves kill humanely. What goes around comes around, I suppose.
While in Australia I photographed one female’s mud nest stuck to the side of a building. Knocking away drying mud walls reveals the efforts of what I timed to be half an hour’s worth of spider hunting:
A stash of paralyzed spiders.
The Pison egg on a tasty arachnid.
After I disturbed the nest, the wasp rebuilt it and promptly filled the cell with new spiders.
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 7D
ISO 200, f/13, 1/250 second
diffuse twin flash