Sunday, August 25, 2013

Preparations with Detours to Yellowjackets and Velvet Ants

Carole and I went to our travel trailer to get it ready for our upcoming holiday trip to the mountains of southwestern Virginia. We scrubbed up the Casita, stocked it with groceries, fired up the refrigerator so that it'll already be cold when we head out in a few days. We made sure all of our spare clothes were in the closet in case we run into any cool or rainy weather (jackets, vests, hoodies, raincoats, etc).

While I was dragging out things like power cords and water hoses and brushes and soap, I noticed the local critters. I always have an eye open for the wild things. Didn't see much in the way of birds or little mammals, but I did see some of the little creatures of Mother Nature.

First thing I saw as I was setting up the hoses to wash the trailer was a Velvet ant marching across the parking lot. They're hard to miss. They are a vibrant red that shows up against just about any surface. Now, many small animals want to remain camouflaged and as anonymous as possible. Not the Velvet ant. Its bright colors serve the same purpose as a rattlesnake's rattles: STAY AWAY! I WILL HURT YOU!

The Velvet ant when I first noticed her.

Leave me alone, human!

I'm out of here! Don't follow!
 
Velvet ants may look like ants and superficially they may act like ants...but they are not ants. They are, in fact, wingless wasps. And they have a potent sting. You do NOT want to be stung by one of these large ladies. I've never been zapped by one, but I have spoken to folk who have, and they measure the wallop right up there with the worst of the big hornets. They're also VERY fast. Extremely fast. They seem to constantly be in a hurry and you don't really want to put one in a position of having to sting you.

I took my photos from a distance.

Next, Carole's mother told me to be careful for the yellowjacket nest near the swing where she goes to relax. She couldn't use it because the last time she sat there she noticed a yellowjacket nest at her feet with an active stream of the little wasps flying in and out of the tunnel opening. So, of course, I went to investigate.

The entrance to the hive. Hard to see.

Sure enough, there is a large colony of yellowjackets there. They were quite active while I was watching and I made sure not to get in the way of the entrance to the hive while I took photographs with the telephoto lens on my camera.

In a few days she's going to have them killed. I tried to talk her out of it, explaining that they'll be gone in a few weeks on their own and there's no real need to destroy them. But she's determined to have them killed. She has lost the use of her swing, so she does have a point. Me...I'd let them run their course and go dormant. But I'm just strange that way.


The hive was very busy. One thing about it was that either arriving or leaving, the jellowjackets did both extremely quickly. They did not tarry at the entrance.

This one was the lookout. She never left that spot the whole time I was there.

Reminds me of the Zanti Misfits.

5 comments:

Lawrence Roy Aiken said...

Jesus! What kind of lens are you using on what kind of camera?

James Robert Smith said...

The camera is my Canon EOS Rebel T1i and the lens I used was my Canon 55-250mm.

I actually need a better lens. Some of my pals take really crisp photos (much more clear than the ones I take) with better lenses. But I haven't been able to afford the purchase.

Vicki said...

The natural world never ceases to amaze me. The Velvet ant is stunning.

James Robert Smith said...

Velvet ants are one of the most beautiful insects I've seen. Just gorgeous animals.

Kirk G said...

I saw what you did there, Vicki...
very clever!