What the Wasp Wants

What the Wasp Wants, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in (wasp in the flower)

What the Wasp Wants, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

This wasp just wanted nectar from the flower. My friend Barbara just spent big bucks getting rid of hundreds of wasps that built nests in her attic and were invading her house. We don’t know what they wanted. This is the last of the leftover sketches from our endless summer, now being called California’s worst drought in 500 years.

Meanwhile, I’m still spending time previously used for sketching out hiking with my pup (but from now on I’m going to start carrying my sketching gear on our hikes and stop halfway to sketch). Thinking a morning 4-6 mile hike would tire her out, I’ve been painting in the studio in the afternoons while she attempts to re-landscape the yard. She’s a perfect angel in the house, but when we’re in the studio (that opens onto the backyard) she goes wild, digging up and chewing on random junk from under the trees and bushes that circle the yard, despite her comfy bed in the studio, fully stocked with chew toys.

Today I caught her chewing on an old broken hose nozzle, a piece of plastic pipe, various twigs and pieces of plants, and a stinky chew toy she’d previously buried. Then we play chase while I try to swap her for something healthier. That gives me an idea for some sketching tomorrow–all her toys and chewie things, many which are quite weird.

Wasps Nest Under the Eaves, ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Wasps Nest!

Wasps Nest Under the Eaves, ink & watercolor, 8x5"

Wasps Nest Under the Eaves, ink & watercolor, 8×5″

Each year a family (a nation?) of yellow-jacket wasps builds a nest here. One year they built a nest in an abandoned bird feeder which led to an interesting garden ecology life-cycle story. This time the nest is under the eaves of my studio. Fortunately it’s in an area where they’re not bothering me and vice-versa.

I would have liked to draw them and their nest with more detail, but decided it was best to work from a distance, have a more vague drawing, and not get stung.

When I eat lunch on the nearby deck, a wasp scout or two will come by for their share, which I put on a plate on the table for them. That way they don’t bother me on the chaise lounge where I usually eat and read.

I investigated having the nest professionally removed but read that they are beneficial to the garden, as they eat insect pests and move pollen around. I was surprised to learn that you shouldn’t swat at them as that makes them instinctively want to bite, which they can do repeatedly since unlike bees they don’t lose their stinger.

When the season changes I’m hoping they go away so I can remove the nest to observe and draw it more closely. And I’m watching for dead wasps that I can draw, but no luck so far.

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