Bug Shots

A closer look at insect photography

Ichneumon Wasp

Posted by Darren on April 17, 2010

Hi all

Here is a shot of an Ichneumon Wasp which I believe is the Orange Caterpillar Parasite Wasp (Netelia producta). These beautiful wasps are known to paralyse caterpillars and lay eggs on their bodies.  The larva of the wasp then kills and consumes the host while the caterpillar is in its pupation chamber.   I have leared that the eggs are visable on the bodies of the caterpillars so I am hoping to look for a few caterpillars around the garden and see if I can notice any.

I find the shape of this wasp quite beautiful, as well as the numerous large eyes on their heads that must give them a wide range of vision.  One factor I find hard about photographing wasps is that their bodies are highly reflective and I almost need to modify my flash diffusing material when shooting them compaired to other insects.   I have spotted a few of these wasps around lately, but this was the first that sat still long enough for me to get a few shots.

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3 Responses to “Ichneumon Wasp”

  1. Reverse engineering suggests you’re using a single overhead flash – any diffusion?

    • Darren said

      Hi Ted

      My flash set-up is very basic, consisting of a home-made snoot for the pop-up flash which extends out to the end of the lens (I don’t even use a speed-light). On the end of the snoot I use an improvised diffusing material I get from the haberdashery shop which seems to work well (I’m not sure what it is called). If I find I need better diffusion, I just double the thickness of the diffusing material. I am currently experimenting with other materials but this seems to work the best at the moment. I guess I’m just trying to fine tune this setup to get the best diffusion in my shots, especially with more reflective insects like the wasp which present the greatest problems up close. I hope as time goes on to invest in a more advanced flash setup, but until then I wanted to make a point of what can be achieved with a basic home-made setup costing about $5.

  2. Outstanding! And to think that I’ve been saving up to buy a macro ring lite flash unit, when I could just use the materials you suggest and make my own… I will have modify your design since my DSLR camera has no pop-up flash.

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