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Friday, January 16, 2009

Pinned specimens vs the real live thing

This paper wasp struggled weakly across the sedum surface. She may have been holed up in the duff under the nearby aloe or in a chink among the rocks. Later in the day I saw some other wasps (maybe including this one) nectaring at milkweed, tagetes and basil flowers: over-wintered females roused by the warm weather getting up the moxey to start building the nests of 2009.

In my obligatory search for polistes exclamans on the internet (always checking for new info, etc) I came across this site with photos of pinned specimens. They look so dead. Dead specimens are I guess necessary for close examination of tiny body parts, but the difference in appearance from the living wasps reveals the dynamic beauty of life. Digital photography has made vast amounts of behavioral observations and live field specimens available to everyone. That's very cool.


Cindy said...

I for one am looking forward to the day when high school and college biology classes accept digital photo collections of field specimens instead of the actual dead bugs.

lisa said...

Hear hear! I should think you could get plenty of info from some good digital macro shots, then maybe they'd only kill one for dissection from time to time.