I continue to enjoy the variety and unique perspectives that National Geographic selects from world-wide submissions as Daily Dozen winners. Your Shot is a great site to check out if you enjoy diverse imagery.
It's an honor to have an image appear in today's selections. This is a 4:1 supermacro of my friend's amazing eye. I was drawn to the color and patterns in her iris during a portrait shoot, and appreciated her willingness to let me setup a tedious shot with off-camera lighting.
Click on the image below to see a larger size on Flickr:
About a week ago I was minding my own business in the privacy of my back yard, when a series of events kicked off that beggars the imagination.
It so happened that while mowing my lawn, I came into close proximity of a yellow jacket nest hidden behind a 4x4 fence post. Driven by the prop wash from the mower blade, a stream of meat bees was hurled directly at my midsection. Leaping back and employing the types of air kicks appropriate for the situation, I was somehow able to avoid getting stung. The fight was immediately brought to the hive, and order was restored to my domain.
The very next day I got home from work and went to check the mail. Imagine my surprise when, upon opening my sealed mailbox, a blast of black jackets swarmed outward mere inches away from my "vitals." In this case I performed a maneuver that would later be described by onlookers as a swimmer's backstroke in mid-air. The windmilling effect of my arms was successful in fending off the attack, due largely to my disciplined form.
Day 3 found me on high alert after back-to-back encounters with the stinging horde. Emerging from my garage, my eyes probed the recesses of the yard for telltale signs of flying insects. In so doing, my gaze settled upon a dry patch in the lawn. Having satisfied myself that the coast was clear, I grabbed the garden hose (which is kept on one of those wall-mounted spools). Peeling off about 6 feet or so, I cranked on the water. Overall my sprinklers do a good job, so the hose had not been used in several weeks. A species of wasp that remains unidentified had actually built a nest inside the tubing! Instantly, I was holding in my grasp what amounted to a roman candle from Hell which was literally spouting wasps as the whole system pressurized. Flailing the hose in a figure 8 I lunged backwards. Parry, parry, thrust, thrust. Good!
If you feel that such a string of events could not possibly continue into the 4th day, your abilities as a prognosticator leave much to be desired.
What happened actually defies description to a certain extent. I will attempt to describe it in the interest of documentation, but everything happened so fast it's difficult to put the experience into words.
Towards evening, I went to let the dogs out into the back yard. As my pointers ran out and the door shut behind me, the most horrendous whirring of wings became audible. Looking towards the Huey-like sound, a W.O.U.S. (Wasp Of Unusual Size) attacked me seemingly from out of nowhere. Now, I have spent a great deal of time in the outdoors and this was an alien species the likes of which I had never even conceived of.
Multiple inches long, and sporting some considerable biomass, the wasp came right at me and rammed into my chest. After rebounding, it charged again without hesitation. Flitting like a wood nymph around the yard, I grabbed a round-nosed shovel and adopted a batter's stance. Still, the beast came. I swung hard, and the blow connected with a sound similar to hitting a marble with an aluminum bat. "DOOOOING!" My foe was launched about 25 feet out onto the grass... and immediately rose up again on wings of hate.
I struck a second time, downing the fiendish creature yet again. Without hesitation I delivered a Spartan-like stabbing motion with the blade of the shovel that cut the wasp in twain. To my amazement, the front half then went airborne and seemed even more agile without the payload of its abdomen! The horror! The horror! Leaving little to chance my next blow decapitated what I would later discover is the Giant Pigeon Tremex Horntail Wasp, Tremex colombo aureus. It turns out this species, AKA the wood wasp, cannot sting at all and I was in little danger (they can, apparently, deliver a solid bite).
Later in the week I encountered another Pigeon Horntail in the same area and took the photograph you see above. The sharp protrusion that looks like a stinger is actually an ovipositor for laying eggs in bark, and is what gives the wasp its name.
Since the events described herein, I have switched to offense - trapping and spraying all manner of stinging pests in my yard at an alarming rate.