Yellowjacket Cleans Herself

Ordinarily, I’m a little nervous around yellowjackets. This one seemed to care less that I was there, and even after several minutes I couldn’t get her to fly away. She was too busy cleaning herself.

First, she cleaned her antennae.

…with her mouth.

Then she started cleaning the rest of her body. I like this picture a lot because you can see how her neck armor goes together.

I had never realized that a yellowjacket could bend its legs in the opposite direction to clean off its back.

Cleaning is actually a very important part of being an insect, because stray dirt can carry spores and lead to its body being completely engulfed by fungus.

She used one leg to clean her face, while she used her mouth to clean the other front leg.

Then she cleaned the underside of her wings. First one side…

…then the other. She’s cleaning her leg in her mouth again.

Don’t forget to wash behind your thorax.

Another excellent shot of a leg being picked clean.

I felt like she needed help scratching her back, but I figured it was best to leave her alone. I could not get her to fly away, and eventually I had to pick her up on a sheet of paper and fling her away (it was that or bring her in the car).