Rare Ruby-tailed Wasps and other jewels

Sometimes the world can turn and snarl in your face like a rabid dog. Evil rules the earth. But then, if you keep your eyes wide open something else can make it bearable again, providing a rolled-up newspaper to fend off the slavering jaws.

I found a Ruby-tailed wasp. It was climbing up the cobwebby window of the storeroom, avoiding the spidertraps. The iridescent blue-green and red of its jewelled body shone in the sunlight – I’d never seen anything like it. So I enticed it into an empty jam-jar, half-disbelieving that something so beautiful could exist in my urban ghetto. I didn’t have a clue what it was, it walked like a wasp – tapping its antennae. So I Googled for “Wasps of Britain” and finally found it – the Ruby-tailed wasp, aka Jewel Wasp. Apparently ’tis a rare species in Britain, classified as ‘vulnerable’.

Unfortunately, the little beauty is a predatory parasite. It lays its eggs in the nests of other wasps and its young hatch and proceed to eat the other species’ larvae – ick. But it is just so terribly pretty you have to overlook its exploitative, free-loading lifestyle.

Although the wasp was remarkably patient during the ensuing photography session, I wasn’t too happy with the results of all that fiddling about with the macro. If you’d like a closer look, there are a couple of v. nice pix here.

And the moral of the story? There is beauty to be found in unexpected places, if we only look past the cobwebs. At least I think that’s what it is. Do feel free to draw your own conclusions.

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