Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our Bug's Life #10: Paper Wasp from Australia Attacks Photographer


This is an update on my discussion (the previous post, here) with the Bugman 
( on the subject of Paper Wasps:

Posted by bugman February 12th, 2010 at 11:45 pm
Paper Wasps
WTB Down Under?
February 12, 2010

Well, encouraged by your kind words about my photos, I decided to take my current ‘project’ to 
the next stage: I’ve been photographing these wasps building their nest outside our house, behind 
a window, and today I thought of taking some outside photos of the progress. I removed the fly 
screen, stepped on the windowsill, and stretched my hand out with the camera to record detailed 
images of the geometric components of their nest. Surprise, surprise, the wasps didn’t like it. 
They suddenly turned on my camera, all of them in line, pointing and shaking their whiskers 
towards it, and before me realising what was happening, they made their move. I broke my 
camera when I dropped it, and I’m now tendering about three wasp bites on my swollen arm and 
I think my camera memory card is still OK, so hopefully the nest photos are still there! In the 
meantime, can you identify my attackers from this earlier image:

Australian Paper Wasp.

Hi Ridou,
We are so sorry to hear about your unfortunate encounter with these Paper Wasps in the genus 
Polistes.  We believe they may be the Australian Paper Wasp, Polistes humilis.  The Brisbane 
Insect Website has some amazing photographs of this species.  Paper Wasps are not normally 
aggressive, but they will attack and sting if the nest is threatened.

Hi Bugman,
In case you’re interested: here are two images that I managed to get from my broken camera’s 
memory card: they were taken at the time when I dropped my camera because of the attack by 
these paper wasps… The first image shows the structure of the nest they’re building, and the 
second shows them lining up to defend it.

Australian Paper Wasp Nest.

Hi again Ridou,
Do you know if the second nest was from the previous year?

Australian Paper Wasp Nest.

Yes, it was… Ridou

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