Common Wasps scavenging on rabbit carcass

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dunksargent
Posts: 235
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2010 2:50 pm
Location: Cambridgeshire UK

Common Wasps scavenging on rabbit carcass

Post by dunksargent »

At Langdyke Countryside Trust's Swaddywell Nature Reserve near Peterborough, Cambs., UK I discovered a rabbit carcass last week and many Common Wasps scavenging the flesh. The rabbit was possibly killed by a predator (fox?) leaving the remains for opportunist insects and carrion birds. The wasps were too busy cutting the flesh with their mandibles to take any notice of observers so I was able to approach fairly close and photograph their scavenging. As soon as their cargo was 'loaded' (gripped by their mandibles) they emerged from the carcass and flew away to their nest(s) ... to feed the developing larvae. Only the larvae can digest insects and carrion delivered by the adult workers. Adult social wasps cannot digest solid food; they feed on liquid sugar secreted by the wasp larvae. Photos taken with Nikon 1 J5 fitted with Zacuto 'Z' 2.5x optical finder / Nikon 1 70-300mm VR lens / Nikon 1 auto extension tubes (third party) ... supported on small Gitzo ground level tripod / Novoflex fork head. Sitting in damp rabbit droppings is not a pleasant experience but sometimes it's necessary to obtain wildlife photographs. The single wasps were photographed by pre-focusing on part of the carcass and pressing the shutter as the wasp emerged ... playing the % and hoping that some frames would be in satisfactory focus. Estimated 'hit rate' approx 20% ... many frames were just out of focus ... or the emerging wasp flew off in a different direction.

Best wishes

dunk
Attachments
Female Worker Common Wasps foraging rabbit carcass
Female Worker Common Wasps foraging rabbit carcass
Note wasp on RHS has rabbit flesh in mandibles
Note wasp on RHS has rabbit flesh in mandibles
Worker with rabbit flesh in mandibles ready to leave carcass and return to nest
Worker with rabbit flesh in mandibles ready to leave carcass and return to nest
Worker taking flight to return to nest with rabbit flesh 'cargo' in mandibles  ... food for wasp larvae
Worker taking flight to return to nest with rabbit flesh 'cargo' in mandibles ... food for wasp larvae
Another worker with 'just cut' rabbit flesh cargo in mandibles
Another worker with 'just cut' rabbit flesh cargo in mandibles
Worker taking flight to return to nest with rabbit flesh 'cargo' secured in mandibles  to feed wasp larvae
Worker taking flight to return to nest with rabbit flesh 'cargo' secured in mandibles to feed wasp larvae
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MarkSturtevant
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Joined: Sat Nov 21, 2015 6:52 pm
Location: Michigan, U.S.A.
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Re: Common Wasps scavenging on rabbit carcass

Post by MarkSturtevant »

A grim sight, but nicely documented.
Mark Sturtevant
Dept. of Still Waters

Guido
Posts: 332
Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:02 am

Re: Common Wasps scavenging on rabbit carcass

Post by Guido »

Like this a lot!

This proofs the value of wasps!

Olympusman
Posts: 4617
Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:31 pm

Re: Common Wasps scavenging on rabbit carcass

Post by Olympusman »

Wasps do love their protein.

Mike
Michael Reese Much FRMS EMS Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

Stanier
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 5:44 am
Location: West Midlands, U.K

Re: Common Wasps scavenging on rabbit carcass

Post by Stanier »

Very interesting images! I had no idea that wasps could scavenge such large lumps of flesh, relative to their size.

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