I Excursed, part 3: Rub-a-Dub-Dub, thanks for the grub.

During my vacation into the bush, one sunny day in the early afternoon I was writing outside, around the fire pit. I noticed some kind of weird-looking bug crawling across the pit. Upon closer inspection I saw that it was an ichneumon wasp burdened with its prey – some kind of grub. I should point out for those who don’t know – the ichneumon wasp is a type of wasp (there are 6000+ species of ichneumons) that lays its eggs inside a stinger-paralyzed but living host. The eggs don’t kill the host until the wasp larvae hatch – at which point the wasp babies have their fresh breakfast. The host (usually larvae of moths, butterflies, and suchlike) may even metamorphosize before the eggs hatch. With that out of the way, I was watching this wasp carrying arount some grub. The grup was as big as the wasp – bigger even, so the wasp couldn’t fly with it. Somewhere across the middle of the pit the wasp dropped the larva and started flying around it. I thought what an unfortunate place to decide to lay your eggs – they won’t survive the next fire. But soon I realized that the wasp was confused and was flying around and around, searching for its payload, and as it flew the tiny draft from the beating of its wings kicked up the ashes and created little miniature dust storms – no doubt disoriented the wasp further still. I almost wanted the help the little bastard but then I thought ew, parasitic wasp! Nevertheless I started looking for the grub which had fallen behind a chunk of charcoal. I poked around with a stick and realized that the embers were still warm from the fire the night before. This may have been why the wasp dropped the larva – its tiny shoeless footies got too hot. I decided to see if I had enough wilderness survival savvy to start a blaze from the ashes in the pit, without the aid of matches, etc. I put some dry leaves under some chunks of coal and blew on it. It took a few moments but eventually I got the fire started again! That was fun, but I put it out after it burned for a couple of minutes because it was already hot out and for all I knew there may have been a fire ban. I never did find that grub though, and the wasp flew off, presumably to find another hapless victim.

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