Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Isodontia Philadelphica - Grass Carrying Wasp

We saw this very unusual looking wasp today at the Niguel Botanical Preserve. The picture is not mine, unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me.

© Copyright John Ascher, 2006-2010

It was one of those "What on earth is that!?!" sightings. Its thread-like waist was just so unusual, I stopped to get a closer look to make sure I was seeing it correctly. I thought maybe it was injured somehow, half eaten. Its abdomen was pulsing.

After some research, I believe it's a Grass Carrying Wasp. It is a solitary wasp that builds grass nests with several tube-like compartments which it provisions with live, paralyzed insects for its larvae to feast on.

Here is an image of the related mud-dauber wasp's nest.

Here's what the Handbook of Nature Study says:

The wasp in some mysterious way knows how to thrust her sting into the spider's nervous system in a peculiar way which renders her victim unable to move, although it yet lives.

Yuck! Is what you may be thinking.

But isn't it fascinating? That as we are going about our busy lives, right here in our town, unbeknown to us is this strange little creature who builds a structure so intricate, who knows to hunt and sting in a precise spot to paralyze not kill, who knows just how many insects her larvae will need, and knows to begin building and hunting in perfect time to lay its eggs.

So do we say to our children "Yuck! Don't go near it!" or do we say, "Let's have a look!"

It's in these little observations that I've found opportunities for our kids to learn a thing or two about the character of God; His intricate detail and attention to even the littlest creatures. Fallen though this world may be, He provides an abundant glimpse of His glory right before us all if we care to look.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. ~1 Cor 13:12

There is much to marvel at. Mason's methods have convinced me of that. Won't it do the same for our children? If we teach them the secret paths where there are glimpses of His nature will they not delight in His ways? These simple observations in nature, or beautiful paintings, thoughtful poems, lovely music, handcrafts, stories of old, and interesting discussions, will they not continue to be a source of joy and fascination for them? And when difficulty and uncertainty arises in their lives, as it most certainly will, will they not find some solace in them as they struggle to make it through?

But Knowledge has her own prizes, and these she reserves for her lovers. It is only in so far as Knowledge is dear to us and delights us for herself that she yields us lifelong joy and contentment. He who delights in her, not for the sake of showing off, and not for the sake of excelling others, but just because she is so worthy to be loved, cannot be unhappy. He says, 'My mind to me a kingdom is'––and, however unsatisfactory things are in his outer life, he retires into that kingdom and is entertained and delighted by the curious, beautiful, and wonderful things he has stored within. ~Charlotte Mason, Vol 4 Our Selves, pg 79

I hope so. And that little wasp helped convince me of it today.

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