Fringe benefits



While it is hot enough out there today to actually make the grass disturbingly warm, and potting soil seem to have been heated on a stove, there is still a small benefit to chasing frantic pollinators on spearmint flowers: you get to inhale the wonderful mint aroma.

Some small black & white wasps could be seen, in close approach, to have distinctively chartreuse eyes, but were disinclined to hold still long enough for me to capture these easily, so it took several tries. Seeing that they were circling the blooms, I picked a spot ahead of their apparent path and waited for them to ‘crest the hill’ and come into focus, which did eventually work. This is a Bicyrtes quadrifasciatus, which it seems might sometimes be referred to as a sand wasp – as with most arthropods, it’s safer to stick to the scientific name since the ‘common’ name is always subject to regional and colloquial variations. I can’t tell you how many species of arachnid I’ve seen confidently called a “garden spider.”

The mistake I made in my approach is that it shows only the head, and so you get no idea how the eyes are incongruous with the body coloration (or lack thereof.) The next one is slightly better, and gives an impression of shyness, perhaps, or surprise. What’s also interesting is that up close, the flowers betray their true coloration of white petals with just a splash of purple from the stigma (I think) – from a typical viewing distance, one gets the impression of very pale lavendar flowers.

Also note the background. Even this far out of focus and beyond the range of the flash set for macro work, the brick wall betrays its presence – this is one reason why I urge people to watch behind their subjects, regardless of depth-of-field.

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