Thursday, October 23, 2008

My new cubicle-mate

I am in an office of cubicles. There isn't much room as it is, and because of what I do for my job, my cubicle is generally very cluttery. Bins of program materials, mounted snake skins and insects, extra binoculars for young visitors, puppets, books stuffed with leaves for pressing, books and binders and magazines, posters with fish, diagrams of the sun, and water cycles stuffed in some corner, gifts for volunteers, a spotting scope, my binoculars, and my hiking pack among a few other things.

And now I have actually, willingly, agreed to share my already crowded space with another. Luckily, she doesn't take up too much space, and sits quietly on my desk in a nicely sized plastic container.

She arrived almost two weeks ago in a state that lead me to believe she was almost dead. She stayed in a one-inch square observation collection cube the entire time I was gone on vacation. I was sure she would be very expired by the time I got back. And actually didn't think much of her when I left.

However, upon my return, I found she was still quite alive and doing her best to do what she does best, spinning a very haphazard web in the space she had. There was frass on the bottom of the container telling me her digestive system was still functioning quite well. I felt terrible that she had been left, cooped up so uncaringly, for so long.

I quickly remedied that situation. A much larger container, covered on the bottom with potting soil, moss ledges to hide under, sticks to help with web anchoring, and a seemingly dead, but still walking around, wasp - and she was set.

It didn't take her long to whip up a rudimentary web and snare that wasp.

She worked hard and fast to bind the wings, and continued to work hard to try and bind the very active abdomen as the wasp struggled with more life than I thought was in it. The wasp's pincers were flying, and doing a great job of keeping Mrs. Widow at bay.

Look at the wasp, just flinging around, fighting back with all it had. And she was working as hard as she could to get her web wrapped around it to immobilize it in order to get a bite in. She did manage to get to the wasps abdomen once, and attempted several times to bite it. But I guess that exoskeleton was just too hard for her, and so she went for the head instead.

This wasp almost proved too much for her to handle. In her attempts to wrap it up, she got too close to those flying pincers, and lost one of her palps. You can see it there, stuck in the web just in front of her. She seemed to back off after that. And I had to call it a night myself.

However, upon my return this morning, the wasp was quite dead, and she had dislodged it from her web. I assume she won out in the end.


RLRP said...

Wow! That is cool! First of all, thank you for introducing me to a new word: frass. New one. Also, is that a black widow?

Sparverius said...

You are quite welcome. Frass is one of my favorite words. :) And yes, that is a black widow. I know, I know - but I've actually begun to grow quite attached to her. That is until she lays an egg sac. I guess females can store male sperm for quite a while...