I spoke to Jenny today regarding the paper wasp (possibly Polistes dorsalis) that seems incapable of leaving the hedgerow lining my patio. In fact, as of this evening the same wasp is in the same bush where I found it more than 28 hours ago. Who knows how long it was there before I came home yesterday…
Here’s what I know.
It’s a female.
She’s not dying, at least not directly from poison or physical injury.
She can’t fly, at least not yet. Or perhaps ever.
She’s large, larger than the Polistes exclamans that visited me last month and who continues to visit me—or whose sisters and/or cousins continue to visit me. Even today.
I don’t know if this new wasp has some physical defect that prohibits her from taking wing, but I do know her attempts to flit into the sky are met with defeat time and time again. Clumsy and uncontrolled, her efforts result in nothing short of misdirected departures and erratic crashes.
I find myself rooting for her success, wishing her the stamina needed to master flight so she can live her life with normalcy.
As for why she can’t fly I can only assume. Perhaps a genetic defect such as lacking a second pair of wings. Perhaps a neurological defect such as not having a good sense of balance or sight. Perhaps something else entirely.
For now, she seems slightly less than panicked by the threats that face her: dehydration, starvation and predation. Her lack of concern stems from her lack of appreciation for the circumstances she faces. I am not so blinded.
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 While these photos taken yesterday do little in assisting me with identification, I captured several more images today that could help, although I can’t promise that result for certain given this insect’s predisposition to remain within the photinia’s shadows and foliage such that photography becomes difficult.
 Time and again I have mentioned my dislike of paper wasps. They are unpredictable, more so than yellow jackets as far as my experience is concerned, and they seem inclined to challenge my personal space and general health at every opportunity. Nevertheless, the problems this one faces and its unusually calm interactions with me—thus far—force a certain gentle response from me that I otherwise would not proffer under these circumstances.
 Why do I find myself so worried about a creature that can harm me to a degree that is life-threatening? My own mental health seems more in question than is the outlook for this relatively small insect…