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Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Wicked Wasp of the West

When I started reading the novel Wicked, I knew I probably wouldn't like it much, but I thought I should expand my literary repertoire beyond science, current events and science fiction. I didn't like the book, but anyway, this wasp (polistes exclamans) reminded me of the main character Elphaba who is, or seems to be, or is interpreted as, or fashions herself as, or whose alter-ego is the wicked witch of the west of the Oz stories. Never having been praised or complimented for her looks or personality growing up, she has become introverted. Here she is, minding her business of searching for prey for her brood in a systematic and intelligent way. She's paused, considering which direction off this Jerusalem sage (phlomis fruticosa) flower will yield the most caterpillars. Meanwhile, people gasp in terror thinking she will sting them. Misunderstood, she sports a scowling face and warning coloration to reinforce her fearsome reputation.

Ent-thopomorphism aside, these wasps have never stung us, I see them as beautiful, they do us a service in killing some pest insect species, and I like this photo because it looks like summer to me.

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