Englishman in Bandung

By Vodkaman


Identification - Anterhynchium - Mason Wasp.
To most people, wasps mean nothing, to some they are a mild irritation, to be sprayed, swatted or stepped on, to a very few they are a source of mild terror and cannot be tolerated in the same room.
One of my biggest fears about moving to Indonesia, was the knowledge that they had BIG wasps. Living around the city though, I very rarely encountered these MiG’s of the bug world.
When I visited Tessa’s family in the kampong, occasionally a HUGE monster of a wasp would enter the house. I would be traumatized, never taking my eye off it. No one else even knew it was there, it meant nothing to them. Eventually Mom would figure out what was bothering me and swat it with the broom.
When I decided to do bugs for Blip, I spent most of my time scanning the area for wasps. If a wasp got too close to me, I would do the windmill thing with my arms and scream like a girl. If they did the wasp 100m at the Olympics, I would be a gold medallist.
After three years of bugging, the sight of a wasp just means reach for the camera and get as close as possible for that special macro shot. Wasps are one of my finest collections, I just counted 44 different species of which I have identified 25, so still a lot of research to be done.
The thing is, wasps, like spiders, are one of those bugs that we should be nurturing. For a start, they feed on nectar and therefore are good pollinators. Their grubs are fed on beetle grubs and caterpillars which cause enormous damage to crops. If you are prepared to let butterflies have the run of your garden then you should at least grant wasps amnesty.
This particular wasp is a mason or potter wasp, so named because it builds a small clay pot, inside which it stores a paralyzed grub on which it lays a single egg. A lot of work goes into reproduction compared with other bugs that just spit out hundreds of eggs on a bit of silk.

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