National Geographic : 1937 Jul
POTENT PERSONALITIES-WASPS AND HORNETS Loving and in dulgent mothers are by no means rare among these canny insects. Although most of them, after pro visioning their cells, seal them up and show no further interest in them, some tend their young bringing them food from time to time as do the birds. Thus the wasp called Bembix the sand wasp makes a burrow in the ground, stores a fly in it, and lays an egg upon the fly. The little grub is fed first with small flies and then with larger ones, until it is fully grown and ready to transform to the pupal stage. These Bembix, which usually live in large com munities, are quite unethical, A BUSY LITTLE much given to stealing each In the world of wasps, (Trypoxylon fabricator) us other's flies at as thin as paper, are tough every opportu- weather of the Tropics. (( nity. Though as neighbors they leave much to be desired, as successful mothers the Bembix have few, if any, equals in the animal world. During her ten to twelve weeks' activity as a full-fledged wasp, a mother Bembix can raise at most only five or six young. And yet these wasps are common. It is about the same with the other digger wasps. The number of young produced is very small. They are so well taken care of, however, that relatively few are lost, and the race prospers. In providing for the welfare of their Photograph by Paul Griswold Howes MASON PATCHES HER HOME OF CLAY masonry is an ancient art. This pipe-organ wasp es clay so expertly that the cells of the nest, though enough to shed rain and hold together in the extreme Greatly enlarged.) young, some mother wasps seem to show almost reckless bravery. This is true, for instance, of the tarantula hawks of the Southwest-fearsome-looking steel-blue wasps, some of which equal in size, and all of them in ferocity, the cicada-killer. TARANTULA HAWKS ON THE HUNT But tarantula hawks are far more alert and canny. They have to be, because the huge spiders with which they must deal are powerful, resourceful, and armed with formidable fangs-very different from the clumsy and defenseless cicadas.