A few years ago, I first saw a tiny winged creature in a photograph, shimmering with beautiful metallic shimmering colors. To my great surprise, it was not a tropical insect. It was a member of the cuckoo wasps (or emerald wasps) family, an animal completely unknown to me until then. Maybe you’re like me, and maybe cuckoo wasps are quite common in your garden too. Just like mine.
Since then, I have become more interested in cuckoo wasps. These glowing insect gems were a big motivation for me. Not only as a beautiful photographic object, but also as a means of improving yourself in the field of macro photography. I longed to take pictures similar to the ones I first saw. But the road to that was not easy or short at all. On the contrary.
When we start noticing more of everything buzzing around us, we find that cuckoo wasps are not rare at all. I saw several dozen of them directly on my terrace’s trees or on stacked firewood during one sunny day. Wherever there is at least some old wood, sooner or later cuckoo wasps will appear. I even found one stray in the shop of a Vietnamese seller in Jičín.
Good photographs of nature are always easier to take if we learn as much information as possible about the photographed object. If we know where to find the photographed object, what its eating habits are, how it reproduces, in which environment it prefers to stay, etc. This also applies to insects, of course. Perhaps even more so, because insects are very small and observing them in nature is much more difficult than with other animals. A lot of information can be read from professional publications, from social networks, but the most valuable is information from experienced photographers – entomologists.
Cuckoo wasps are not only beautiful, but their development is also very interesting. Females lay their eggs most often on the larvae of some species of wasps, whose larvae themselves parasitize on butterfly caterpillars. So Cuckoo wasps are actually parasites second to none. And to make things even more complicated, it can happen that a Saber wasp discovers a Cuckoo wasp larva and lays an extra egg inside it. Out of this whole cascade of parasites, the Saber wasp is the winner.
It is basically impossible to photograph cuckoo wasps in their normal operation. On flowers or old wood, you only have a few seconds to catch a glimpse of it at all. Suddenly, he rushes in from somewhere, sits down for two or three seconds, and at the same moment, just as surprisingly, disappears. However, it is enough to arm yourself with patience, wait for colder weather, and her rhythm of life will slow down or almost stop for a few moments. With gentle handling, the cuckoo wasp will even pose for you for a few moments. Preferably where you just caught her. Even the light of the flash, which is necessary for taking a nice picture in the case of cuckoo wasps, does not disturb her in any way. However, one must be careful. Tiny ones like eight millimeter cuckoo wasps are very fragile. That’s why it’s not a good idea to bother them for too long so as not to harm those glittering pidi jewels.