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Kiss of death!

Kiss of death!
Photo Information
Copyright: Joe Kellard (joey) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-09-16
Categories: Insects
Camera: Canon Powershot S3 IS, Raynox DCR-250
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/320 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-09-20 2:43
Viewed: 2810
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 66
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Sphex is a genus of insects in the family Sphecidae. There are over 130 species and subspecies recognized in this genus.

Digger wasps are cosmopolitan predators that can sting and paralyze prey insects. In preparation for egg laying they construct a protected "nest" (some species dig nests in the ground, while others use pre-existing holes) and then stock it with captured insects. Typically the prey are left alive, but paralyzed by wasp toxins. The wasps lay their eggs in the provisioned nest. When the wasp larvae hatch, they feed on the paralyzed insects. A well-known species of digger wasp is the great golden digger (Sphex ichneumoneus) which is found in North America. The developing wasps spend the winter in their nest. When the new generation of adults emerge, they contain the genetically-programmed behaviors that are required to carry out another season of nest building. During the summer, a female might build as many as half a dozen nests, each with several compartments for her eggs. The building and provisioning of the nests takes place in a stereotypical, step-by-step fashion.

Some Sphex wasps drop a paralyzed insect near the opening of the nest. Before taking provisions into the nest, the Sphex first inspects the nest, leaving the prey outside. During the wasp's inspection of the nest an experimenter can move the prey a few inches away from the opening of the nest. When the Sphex emerges from the nest ready to drag in the prey, it finds the prey missing. The Sphex quickly locates the moved prey, but now its behavioral "program" has been reset. After dragging the prey back to the opening of the nest, once again the Sphex is compelled to inspect the nest, so the prey is again dropped and left outside during another stereotypical inspection of the nest. This iteration can be repeated again and again, with the Sphex never seeming to notice what is going on, never able to escape from its genetically-programmed sequence of behaviors. Dennett's argument quotes an account of Sphex behavior from Wooldridge's Machinery of the Brain (1963). Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett have used this mechanistic behavior as an example of how seemingly thoughtful behavior can actually be quite mindless, the opposite of human behavioral flexibility that we experience as free will (or, as Hofstadter described it, antisphexishness).

In addition to this seemingly instinctive and programmed behavior, the Sphex has been shown, as in some Jean Henri Fabre studies, not to count how many crickets it collects for its nest. Although it instinctively searches for four crickets, it cannot take into account a lost cricket, whether it is to ants, flies, or misplacement. If for instance, the antennae of the wasp were to be cut off, the Sphex would not think to continue to pull its prey by a leg. The instinct of its behavior even goes so far that if it catches a bee and then is caught moments later by a preying mantis, it will continue to chomp onto its prey until it is no longer able.

Thankyou for your comments

nainnain, Aaltjie, Janice, PaulH, JORAPAVI, cataclysta, Argus, SelenE, uleko, marhowie, sandpiper2, LordPotty, Silke, CENT-TRETZE, ramthakur, fartash, jcoowanitwong, eqshannon, pvs, Servane, nglen, haraprasan, pierrefonds, Tamrock, angybone, Nephrotome2 has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

great macro photography, techniqualy perfect AND great action shot

hello JOE
magnifique cette composition et présentation agréable, belles couleurs, netteté parfaite, bravo
merci a toi du partage

Excellent photo, excellent detail, excellent notes.
Lucky for you to be at the right place at the right time.
Unlucky for the prey that was caught here by the wasp.
Real pleasure to look at. Thanks for sharing.
Kind regards

WOW and WOW.
Nicely captured and aaptly named!

  • Great 
  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2007-09-20 2:57]

Hi Joe,
there seems to be alot of shots of battling insects around at the moment...maybe it's that time of year? Anyway, this surely has to be one of the best posted here on TN. Composition is good, excellent BG and of course, super sharp detail. You must live in the undergrowth ;o)

Hola Joey,
Excelente documento con gran definición y detalle, la composición y nitidez son extraordinarias, saludos
José Ramón

Hi Joe
It is perfect. Fantastic moment. Great realisation of subject. Perfect sharpnees and buckground. Nice composition. Very good note
Best wishes

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-09-20 3:34]

Hello Joe,
Superb macro of a Digger Wasp with its prey. Excellent sharpness and composition and superb bokeh to make this one of the best macros that I have seen on TN for some time!
TFS and best wishes, Ivan

  • Great 
  • Janice Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3277 W: 148 N: 6163] (18832)
  • [2007-09-20 3:55]

Joe - great shot. Those wasps are quite vicious and not good neighbours.
Very good sharpness, and good clarity and colours. Well captured, especially with the wasp holding the fly like that.
Well done

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-09-20 3:58]

Hello Joe,
What a masterpiece!! Well-timed and outstanding capture of these insects. All in focus showing razor sharp details and fine colours. The composition is amazing too with the bent grass and the beautiful soft background. Well done!!
TFS and regards, Ulla

Wow Joe, this one is very special.
Great moment captured.."Carpe Diem" as they say :)
Very well done.

Hi Joe

Great capture and great note.
Amazing composition, right place at right time I guess.
Great composition, sharpness and OOF background


What a great shot Joe!
You were so lucky to capture this one.
The composition and POV are just perfect.
Details,colour and DOF are really good too.
Outstanding work.
Very well done!

Hi Joe,

Wow. this is one of the best captures. Its so wild so natural. You were so lucky to capture it. And you have done wonders with your camera. Perfect focus, nice colors and well composed. Very well done

  • Great 
  • Silke Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 729 W: 98 N: 1707] (5458)
  • [2007-09-20 6:40]

Outstanding notes to accompany a superbly composed capture with great colours, details and bokeh!
Fabulou swork

Hello Joe:

An amazing clarity in this photo in which the wasp paralyzes to the fly that has captured. A very good point of view with this leaf doubled and an ideal fund. A perfect shot and an explanation exaustiva and documetada of the characteristics of this insect. A good work

An arm friend


Superb nature picture by virtue of the theme it depicts, Joe.
Both the insects are very well captured in this sharp and colourful image.
The interesting shape of the leaf and the plain green BG add great charm to this composition.
Well done and TFS.

Hello Joe
Perfect moment to shoot,
Great focusing,lighting and BG,
Fantastic colors and POV,Welldone.

Good Luck

Hi Joe,
Wonderful picture. Great timing to take this shot. Perfect focus and well lighted. TFS this fine image.

Whoa Joey. Good title...and great capture of insects doing what things they must do. It is natures laws or perhaps suggestions. Wonderful sharp and nicely colored. Notes as usual complete.

  • Great 
  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2007-09-20 7:50]

Hi Joe,

A superb macro and a funny title,well captured with excellent sharpness and good colors,excellent work and tfs


Buen enfoque y luz. Me encanta la composición y el fondo, aunque yo destacaría la buena pose de la avispa. Un curioso conjunto.
Preciosa toma Joe.

Un saludo: J. Ignasi

It feels a shiver down the spine!
great shot with the appropriate note.


  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2007-09-20 13:00]

Hi Joe. i would like to say i think this is your best posting on TN so far but i am sure you have more to come. Excellent work with your new lens. the detail and sharp focusing is first class. with rich colours. well spotted by you. with a good POv/DOF. very well done TFs. good notes too.

Hi Joe,
A nice capture of this dreadful kidnapping scene. Sorry for the fly. A lovely composition with excellent details and POV. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2007-09-21 1:28]

Hi Joe,
Your timing was very good. I liked the moment you captured. Good focus, sharpness and color tones. TFS
Best wishes,

Hi Joe,

A good POV of the digger wasp and of the fly, the photo has a good composition, sharpness and nice colors. Thanks for sharing.


hi joe!
great macro with a nice situation!
really sharp and a fine composition
good work!

A really exciting image that you have capture Joey. This is not just an image but one that tells a story into the wonderful world of insect behavior. TFS. :)

This is one of those photos where I said "OH WOW" great moment you captured so clearly. Perfect!

  • Great 
  • erve Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 96 W: 3 N: 131] (620)
  • [2007-09-23 6:23]

good capture, and very interesting note.



Excellent shot with crisp clear details. The action is very well shown and furthermore well documented in the note. Brilliant POV. Interesting scene.

Belle image intéressante. D'habitude ce sont des araignées que l'on voit dans ce rôle.
Bonne journée.

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