Nature can be pretty brutal, whether you’re a buffalo falling to a pride of lions or an impala being dragged to your death by a crocodile lurking in the waterhole.
Yet it’s actually some of nature’s smaller creatures that go out in the worst ways.
Wasps can send shivers down my spine for what they do to their prey. The adults of many species feed exclusively on pollen, yet are predatory when it comes to providing food for their larvae. Spiders, caterpillars and a variety of insects are neutralised with a sting and then dragged off to a hole or muddy nest. The wasp then lays an egg on the immobilised victim and when the egg hatches, the larva has a ready food supply to feed on. The worst part of it is a lot of the time the prey is not actually dead but simply paralysed. This ensures that the meat stays fresh until the larva is hatched and ready to feed.
Ranger Sean Zeederberg recently captured this footage of a thread-waisted wasp on the Londolozi Village path, dragging its latest victim off to a hole:
The reserve and its surrounds kick into overdrive in summer, which you’ll hear us mentioning again and again in the forthcoming months; everything is trying to take advantage of the abundant natural resources. Weavers use the flourishing grass for nests, foam-nest frogs can take advantage of the standing water to lay their eggs over, and of course the caterpillars that are suddenly abounding make a great food source for a multitude of smaller creatures.
Expect to see a few more videos and pictures of the small, the weird and the wonderful this season…