Some more photographs of our mystery bee-wasp, which I think will clinch its species. The puzzle only really begins there however.
Here from the back, it’s difficult to distinguish Hasdrubal from a honeybee. With her deep brown abdomen you can only just make out the wasp markings. Lookit her little stinger! You can hardly see that with the naked eye. Which is perhaps as well considering how much I had to handle her.
Sorry about the soft focus incidentally, this was really pushing the Note’s 8Mpx camera to its limits. Though I have to admit it’s not technically impossible to take sharp close-up pictures with it, merely humanly difficult. Depth of field becomes negligible while shake is amplified.
From the front it’s a different story, there’s zero doubt that this is a wasp. The face is absolutely typical. As are the antennae and slender legs.
And, incidentally, the hair. In my mind wasps are as smooth as spray-painted steel, but this research has shown me that they’re really quite fuzzy. I guess it’s the (normal) black-and-yellow markings; nature’s alarm signal makes you oblivious to a wasp’s cuddlier aspects. Or at least keeps you too far away.
We also see where H.R. Giger got a lot of his inspiration. Brr.
What species of wasp though? Thanks to Bruce Ruston of Blue Platypi Photography who sent a link to this great wasp ID chart, I’m almost certain that Hasdrubal is a common wasp. She has the distinctive “anchor” on her face. The only other variety that looks a lot like this is the red wasp, but its thorax markings are quite different – as we see in the shot below.
So Hasdrubal is almost certainly a common wasp – except she’s simply the wrong colour. The question then is whether this falls within the normal variation of the species, or if she’s some sort of freaky mutant.
That it’s possible to get tolerably sharp macro shots with this camera is demonstrated by this final one, in which I thought to ask Hasdrubal herself what sort of hymenoptera she is.