Saturday, July 11, 2009

Close encounter

I can feel the Dog Days coming on here. The leaves have lost the lush, green color of early summer. The woods seem a little dusty and worn. The air is muggy, and the yellow jackets are out. This morning, I heard a fierce buzzing in the leaves that turned out to be a yellow jacket locked in a death embrace with a winged beetle. Yellow jackets are primarily scavengers, but they also hunt. It looked as if the beetle was destined to become larvae food, but he was putting up a pretty good fight. He was quite a bit bigger than the wasp and kept trying to get airborne despite the predator locked onto his belly. He finally surrendered and lay still. I could see the yellow jacket gnawing into the area around the beetle's head, legs kneading his prey's torso in a sensual way that made me think of human lovers, or a nursing baby. It was beautiful and revolting at the same time. I couldn't resist trying to get a closer look. I moved some of the leaves aside, and as I did the yellow jacket lost his grip. The beetle, his body damaged but his survival instinct intact, suddenly returned to life, broke free and flew away. The yellow jacket was left crawling over the ground, disoriented, groping for his victim.

Photo by Hartmut Witsch from Wikimedia Commons.


Margaret said...

I know it's very unenlightened of me, especially since I am myself an omnivore, but I always root for the victim.

BitterGrace said...

Me, too--but think of all the starving baby yellow jackets.

Julie H. Rose said...

My neighbor moved away a few weeks ago, begrudgingly taking her ferocious cat with her. She actually left it behind for near on a week.

We all found her distasteful; she killed and ate at least one red squirrel a day. We should have applauded her instead! She was very good at her job.

BitterGrace said...

That sounds liek a kitty health regimen: "Kill and eat at least one red squirrel per day."

At least she didn't go hungry during her week alone. I get distressed by songbird slaughter, but I always appreciated my old cat's mouse-killing prowess.