17 March 2008

Fresher than that from "the fresh food people"

"How immensely superior to our own pickling processes is that of the Wasp!" *

"certain of fresh meat until their banquet is finished" **
* & ** – J. H. Fabre, The Hunting Wasps, 1916

Mud wasp grubs (Family Vespidae) and smörgåsbord of spiders

"Apples on sale in supermarkets are up to 10 months old, an investigation by The Sun-Herald has revealed.

Woolworths, which advertises itself as "the fresh food people", was the worst culprit, with the oldest products on sale.

The Sun-Herald bought samples of Granny Smiths from Woolworths, Coles and the Norton Street Grocer in Bondi Junction after learning that, within the industry, some products are nicknamed "birthday apples" because they are up to a year old by the time they hit the shelves.

All the samples were Australian-grown.

The apples are kept in cold storage under controlled conditions from the time they are picked."

"Our tests show supermarket apples are up to 10 months old", Sydney Morning Herald, January 20, 2008

A spider a day, and Mum's the word
This is another nest, unfortunately broken but also packed with a spider assortment including the gorgeous St Andrews Cross, various luscious green Crabs, what I think is a Lynx that was not fast enough; and the exotic banquet-size Camel Spider Leucauge dromedaria, not shown below but shining hugely green and striped black and silver-white in the undisturbed right-hand chamber above.
That brilliant blue bit of shell in the foreground is something else . . .

The cuckoo in paradise

18/3 NOTE: For those of you losing sleep over the scene of ruin, those grubs have been quartered in other accomodation, where they are waxing fat.


steve aylett said...

cor blimey i like the colours. Why are all these spiders gathered in the same place?
Steve A

anna tambour said...

To provide enough food for each wasp grub. It's spiders here (and not just any spider), but wasps are very picky. Some pack in grubs of certain species of beetles; others, adult beetles, but as with other foods, all beetles are not food alike. Certain caterpillars, bees, and if wasps were big enough, humans (but probably not just any human) could be considered the perfect rearing food, depending upon the wasp species. And how much observation has been done on personal preference? For wasps do have personalities. Some cut off the limbs of spiders, just as some would cut off our lap-top-connected limb and pluck our blackberries.
But these spider limbs above have been left attached. They look more plump, juicy and delicious than the priciest crustaceans sold fresh from the shop.

My favourite book dedication is by (Stanford professor emeritus) George D. Shafer, to someone he named "Crumple-Wing" and called "a friend", a mud dauber wasp who taught him "that adult females of this species possess a nervous system which, though tiny in size, enables them to remember, to learn, and to show individuality."
George D. Shafer, The Ways of a Mud Dauber, 1949, Stanford, California, Stanford University Press

A beautiful book filled with both rigorous scientific observation and an unrestrained love of life.