I took a day-trip to the Halfmoon Lake Natural Area last week, a lovely bright sky day without too much heat. The early and coolest part of the walk was not great for bug photography, but the walk back was more productive. Among the pine trees, a south-facing and sunlit section of the path was showing signs of activity: tiny patches of freshly excavated sand below holes in the path edge.
Usually, I photograph ground-level bugs while on my knees, bringing the camera down to earth and using a right-angle viewfinder to see the action. But I lost the viewfinder on a earlier trip ($$ ka-ching!) and now had to resort sprawling across the path, lying on my belly in the sand. Not that this is uncomfortable (I have some built-in cushioning available, and the sand helps…) , but the thought of a horse-rider and/or an ATV pilot storming through while I’m concentrating on photographing the wee beasties did pass through my mind.
I started the video camera on one pompilid wasp that was digging a burrow, then set off to see what I could find.
Only two paces away was another cellophane bee at work, and as I lay down to photograph it, I noticed another pompilid wasp active at a burrow just to the right of it! A tip to photographing any burrowing bug is to approach while they are hidden in the tunnel and try to remain motionless when they are visible and approach only when their eyes are hidden. Too much disturbance and they may abandon the dig, and that means even re-arranging items near the nest entrance can cause the wasp to be unable to find the opening again.
For the first time, I had the opportunity to photograph a sphecid pulling a spider into the burrow. That was pretty cool, except I managed to muff it. I was in place photographing one when another dragged a spider to a hole close to me. I had little time to respond, so I have four out-of -focus images of the spider being dragged in. (I do believe the word “drat!’ passed my lips…I have added those four images to the end of this video I have uploaded to YouTube, where they are unlikely to be noticed. 🙂 ) Although I was in the area for over an hour, and there was a few pompilid’s active, that was the only spider-hauling wasp that I came across. However, I did find this poor fellow (right), anesthetized and awaiting its doom.