Friday, 6 February 2015

Paralysis in the Undergrowth

During my stay in Colombia so far, everyday has produced something incredible, great or just simply an amazing moment. Chachagüí, in Nariño departement, an area of mountains and forest is just perfect - my passion and love of forests and mountains are in top gear here.
Blue-black and gold wasp

Yesterday evening at dusk, Humberto (of the Paredes family where I'm staying at the moment) called me to bring my camera. I saw this massive blue-black wasp digging  a hole - I saw one of these wasps the other day for the first time and was gagging to photograph it. Seeing it dig a hole though, I knew there must a large paralysed creature, probably a spider, nearby. Humberto, Gracias por llamarme a fotografiar este! (thanks to Humberto for calling me to photograph this!)

Paralysed tarantula
Looking around, I found it - a tarantula and not small either! This was just amazing!! I was grinning from ear to ear and my camera was clicking away.

This blue-black wasp at 7-9cm long and about 2-3cm high, had paralysed a tarantula which had a body length (excluding legs) of about 7cm - with legs, probably a good spread of around 15cm! The wasp had returned into the undergrowth to the spider and whilst trying to get some shots, I could not really see what it was doing. Only when I was processing the photos did I realise that the wasp had been "cutting" the spider's legs so that it could fit into the hole easier - the hole was big enough for the wasp but it was going to be a squeeze getting the spider in. It was also then that I realised what had seemed like just a yellow colour was in fact a gold colour! The camera flash had just lightened it 
more for these little stunning details.
Wasp cutting the spider's legs

A bit later the wasp didn't seem very happy with the hole as it started exploring other spots nearby (this was after the first hour of watching it and taking photos). After dinner I returned and the hole was still open but the wasp and the tarantula had gone so unfortunately I was able to watch the whole process as I had done in Africa before. 
Zoomed in photo showing how clean the cuts are.
The wasp's mouthparts have some powerful jaws.

There it had been an mind-boggling experience of a moment in the life of these wasps that capture and paralyse spiders, bury them in the hole after laying an egg inside the spider. Once the larva hatches it will survive by eating the spider from the inside out before emerging from the soil. 
This was just on another scale though, with a massive wasp and a tarantula which added another dimension to this "Discovery Channel" moment as one of the other people watching referred to it.

Para mis amigos/amigas de habla español - si el traductor no funciona bien aquí , voy a dar una explicación en español.
Un momento increíble en mi día!


Share: