Bug Shots

A closer look at insect photography

Brown Paper Wasp (Ropalidia revolutionalis)

Posted by Darren on May 21, 2010

The Brown Paper Wasp (Ropalidia revolutionalis) is a social wasp commonly seen in South-East Queensland.  These small wasps (approx 10 mm in length) construct distinctive vertical combs consisting of two cells in width, with larger nests containing several vertical combs.  Although not considered an aggressive species, these wasps will defend a nest if disturbed and can deliver a painful sting (I know from personal experience!). These wasp nests are commonly found around the home, particularly under eaves or windows.   If their nests are removed or the colony is killed, any survivors will persistently return to the spot and start rebuilding the nest.  The first photo shows the beginning of a new nest, with a solitary female who may eventually become the queen.

The difficulty in photographing social wasps is that they are highly defensive of their nests, and you just can’t get too close without getting seriously stung.   Shooting in low light or at night presents safer opportunities as the individuals are far more sedate and less likely to aggravate. The best option is to try and locate individuals that have left the nest for hunting or feeding.   As nectar feeders, the adults can be found feeding on flowers or roosting on leaves or twigs.  They also hunt for caterpillars which they feed to the developing larvae in the nest.

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