At first it was just a sea of oregano and mint. Waves of it waist high, in my mother’s garden. Then the buzz of honeybees. Then the darts of orange. Bright orange and glossy black, several wasps came and went like tiny missles. On the mint, and mint only, they fed in the afternoon sun. I took a seat and steadied my camera.
In the moment I didn’t know the wasps’ name, but these great golden digger wasps were hooked on the nectar, and did not seem worried about me in the slightest. Sure enough, when I looked them up later that night I learned that these stunning wasps are not much of stinging threat to humans. They’re solitary and parasitoidal. Meaning, the females find prey and stun it, drag it into the hole they’ve dug, and lay an egg on the living catch—an eventual meal for the offspring. A brutal technique, and like any good villian they do it dressed to the nines.