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.

photo details:
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 7D
ISO 200, f/13, 1/250 second
diffuse twin flash