I can’t say for sure . . . yet . . . but I think
I have “discovered” a natural fish bait that will be just as good (maybe
better) than hickory nut worms and other much used members of the maggot
tribe, larval stage of the common paper wasp (Polistes fuscatus).
I came eyeball-to-eyeball with these insects last
Sunday while hooking up an electric hedge trimmer to an outdoor light.
The wasps (about a dozen) had built their paper-like nest (comb) in the
light fixture and were busily engaged in populating the world with young
of their kind. I, of course, wanted to plug into the outlet. The
adult wasps (my young daughter used to call them “waspus”) were something
of a threat to my plan. So, with a can of insect spray, I dosed the adults
and raked out their gray paper nest (white caps covering the larvae in
their little cells) and it fell to the earth at my feet.
Facing no real threat from the adults (they are
a rather docile insect), my first thought was to step on the paper comb
and forever end the threat of living with more of their ilk. But then the
little nest (two inches in diameter) looked so interesting that I picked
it up. Then, a closer inspection started unfolding before my very eyes
(and in my faulty cerebellum). Why not, I thought, check them out. So I
pulled off one of the little whiten caps that covered a single chubby,
little (half an inch) larva that occupied each of several cells. Then thunder
struck home. Fish bait! Why hadn’t I thought of that before? So I hurried
to my den, found a vacant jar to hold the comb, and started my fish bait
There was no proof, wasp larvae were a completely
new thing . . . at least for fish bait . . . and I vowed to put them to
the acid test in this little bluegill-bass pond of my acquaintance. More
on that later. But the little hickory nut worm like critters should do
the job when impaled on a small hook (say something less than a quarter-inch
gap) and flipped in with my little flyrod. After all, 'gills go "gaga"over
all sorts of insect larva. Why not that of the wasp, more specifically,
my wasp. I will let you know. But first I must write that there are
several species of wasps and they build a variety of nests in which to
brood their offspring. Still another candidate for this little scheme could
be the potter wasp, that builds a ball-like series of cells, and the one
we used to call the “mud dobber” that builds elongated nests on the sides
of buildings. They must all host larva.
As one who has dipped a great variety of natural
baits over the years, I find the propensity of wasp larva, and the processes
by which they come to life, absolutely enthralling. So, take heed, hickory
nut worms, mousies, golden grubs and others, there could be a new kid on
Fish Bait Street.
Click on thumbnail
image for enlarged view of larva in "my" common paper wasp nest.
Indianapolis Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society is staging a public meeting
July 30 at Gander Mountain Lodge (1049 North Emerson Avenue, Greenwood).
The 6:30 p.m. meeting’s purpose is to recruit members and non-members to
work on improving the ruffed grouse habitat in Indiana. If you improve
grouse habitat you help many forms of wildlife. For more information, call
Tom Beauchamp, 317-313-0342, or reach him by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Such a wonderful game bird (good on the platter, too) deserves a better
lot than we have given it.