Ball of Color
This photomicrograph shows the ruby tailed wasp called Chrysis ignita, which is the most commonly observed of this species. The abdomen s is coloring ruby red and bronze ? give the wasp its name. The underside of the abdomen is also concave, which allows the wasp to roll itself into a protective ball if threatened. Ruby tailed wasps are parasitoids, meaning they eventually kill their hosts. Chrysis ignita parasitizes mason bees: The females lay their eggs in the same nest as mason bees, so when the ruby tailed wasp larvae hatch, they feed on the mason bee larvae. Ruby tailed wasps do have a sting but it is not functional and most species have no venom. The fantastical image snagged a spot on the Wellcome Image Awards 2011, which chooses the most striking and technically excellent images acquired by the Wellcome Images picture library in the prior 18 months.