Lifescapes Gallery

22 / Feb / 2012
A Mason’s Lodge in Kabini
Potter Wasp, Kabini
Ganesh H. Shankar

A Mason’s Lodge in Kabini

The cult of the Freemasons and the rituals of the Masonic lodges may remain an eternal mystery to those of us who’re on the outside. But in the lush environs of Kabini, there exists another esoteric group of masons that creates lodges whose construct is predicated to the creation of life, and whose artistry has inspired the design grammar of indigenous communities. Welcome to the world of the Potter Wasps, an eclectic group of caterpillar-consuming wasps that builds pot-shaped mud lodges for its young. Also known as Mason Wasps, these finicky designers aren’t satisfied with just any material. When a mason decides to build, she scouts around diligently for the right texture, and on locating the ideal ‘quarry’, mines the earth that’s then mixed with her own saliva, before building on a site far removed from her mother-lode. Once she’s built the lodge, she lays a single egg inside, and then provisions the nest with tiny caterpillars which she paralyzes, before sealing the pot and moving on to the next one. The net result is a beautiful, jug-shaped mud lodge with a narrow neck strung out at intervals like so many pieces of miniature pottery. There’s a designer imprint to boot, as each wasp leaves her own distinctive signature, with some building only slanted pots and others preferring them straight. However what goes on within this mason’s lodge doesn’t stay within the lodge. In a few weeks, the larva will emerge from the egg and greedily gobble up all the food left by mom, before spinning a warm cocoon where it’ll lie all snug and comfy. When the time and temperature are right, it will break out of the lodge and take up its rightful place as the next Mason of Kabini.

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 at 5:21 am and is filed under Insects . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Ganesh H. Shankar says:


    Nikon D300 mm f4, 1.4x TC, 1/125s @ f9.

    Thank you all for your views !!

    – Regards,

    • Rajesh Ramaswamy says:

      Thanx Ganesh…folks, that, then, is the technology behind the magic…now I’ve used a similar lens and the quality of my pics weren’t in the same pincode:-(
      I guess it takes something more than just the machine. to make magic..and whatever it is, Ganesh has loads of it:-))))

  2. Jini S says:

    Splendid Photography! Memories of the visit to OCC still linger! Hope to be back soon!

  3. Nancy Douglas says:

    The photo is beautiful! I hope to be back to Orange County in 2 years. Meanwhile, I love the photos and send them on.

    • Rajesh Ramaswamy says:

      2 years? Hmm…guess we’ll have to make the time seem shorter by keeping you regularly updated…lol:-)
      Cheers and hope to see you here by 2014; sooner if we can tempt you with these beautiful pics:-)

  4. Tarun Jacob says:

    Going through OCC website itself is delightfull.Wonderful to the initiatives that OCC keeps taking.Have these potter wasps at home,got to know the name of the wasp through this article.

  5. Dr Ajit K Huilgol says:

    Another gem from Ganesh! And a bg to die for!

    • Rajesh Ramaswamy says:

      Ganesh is humungously talented. But then, you’d know a thing or two about that yourself, won’t ya Doc?
      (For those not in the know, Doc Huilgol’s an amazingly perceptive potographer himself, and some of the masterpieces in Lifescapes owe much to his lens)

      • Jose Ramapuram says:

        Besides being a brilliant doctor specializing in Kidney Transplant Surgery, Dr. Huilgol is truly multi talented… trust me :). He is a brilliant photographer and has been a cricket commentator for All India Radio since 1972. He is an amateur hypnotist who still gives occasional shows in Bangalore and Mysore. As if this were not enough, he has even tried his hand at movie acting and has one film to his acting credit called “Freaky Chakra”. Now isn’t that something? 🙂

  6. Chetan Sashital says:

    Would appreciate if you could also provide the camera, lens used with exposure and speed data.


  7. Jose Ramapuram says:

    Another outstanding photograph from Ganesh and congrats to the Master Storyteller Rajesh Ramaswamy for the amazing story.

    • Rajesh Ramaswamy says:

      Thanx so much Jose…all this wouldn’t have been possible without the loving foster parenting from you:-))

      • Jose Ramapuram says:

        Rajesh, can you imagine where Orange County would have reached with Lifescapes without your amazing writing or our fantastic photographers? Photographers + Rajesh Ramaswamy + Orange County’s efforts = Outstanding quality of lifescapes :). It proves that as in the case of most successful concepts, here too it is 1+1+1= 10 🙂

  8. Mich Gupta says:

    Guys, I have to tell you that I look forward to every photo essay from you. Each brilliantly written and brings many a smile across my face. Thank you!

  9. Dr.Satish Sharma says:

    Fantastic detailing in the image, and the description is so creative in the way you’ve created a parallel universe and connected it to the arcane world of masons. Congrats!

  10. Mathew says:

    absolutely brilliant photography and commentary! Congratulations to all including Orange County for running these series. Must make it an ebook for free download especially for students who have taken science and graphics arts.

    • Rajesh Ramaswamy says:

      Hmmm…now that’s an interesting idea: the e-book part of it at least:-). As for serious science, this can perhaps whet the appetite, but stays consciously away from getting too serious…not because of any lack of knowledge, but from an intent to open up the natural and cultural world to a general audience. Hopefull, we’re doing that:-)

  11. Atul says:

    Incredibly beautiful photographs.

    Really look forward to them.

    • Rajesh Ramaswamy says:

      Thanx Atul. Just a matter of having incredible lensmen on our side:-)And, of course, we’ll keep bringing ’em to you.

  12. Saravana says:

    Beautiful narration and excellent photo.. thanks for sharing

    • Rajesh Ramaswamy says:

      Thanx for taking the time Saravana. And hopefully, you’ll be sharing it with your circle too:-)

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