The wasp drama

Apr 04, 2024
The wasp drama

Picture this.. the scorching sun is beating down on Gwango as if it has a personal vendetta.. A naughty baboon slides down the roof of a thatched chalet as another busy day gets underway for us in the wild. We stop in at Gwango Kule Camp, where the finishing touches of our new self-catering lodge are taking shape - but now, due to the scorching heat - the construction team has decided to take a break.

Okay.. now picture this… a motley crew of local men are lounging under an acacia tree. Others are sitting on makeshift wooden chairs. The men are in deep discussion.. Something about marital issues. Then suddenly, Mr Nchindo (our lead artisan) drops… the wasp bomb (figuratively speaking)!!

‘Usandifananidza nezingizi rinotora gone kuita mwana waro’ he utters solemnity. Translated this means "Don’t compare me to a wasp that turns a caterpillar into its offspring" (OKAY!! Now we are even more confused)…..

Next thing you know, there are raised eyebrows, clenched fists and maybe a few gasps of disbelief. 

Well.. it turns out.. this myth is more than just insect banter! The myth was derived from the life cycle of the Mud Dauber, scientifically known as Sceliphron Caementarium. It's believed that the wasps somehow ‘kidnaps’ spiders and caterpillars and turn them into wasp larvae.

But really the process goes like this: The female collects spiders and caterpillars, paralyzes them with her sting and places them inside a mud chamber (her nests). The female deposits an egg on each spider/caterpillar chamber and then seals the nests. When the wasp larva hatches, it feeds on the prey left behind in the chamber. The larva develops into a pupae in about three weeks and undergoes a complete metamorphosis. The following spring, the pupae (pupates) mature and the next generation begins.

What started as harmless banter soon turns into a battleground of accusations and hurt feelings. So next time you are in Hwange and hear someone drop the Wasp bomb, take a moment to appreciate the drama - and maybe even share a laugh or two.



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