Many Trails
by Adrien Taylor
Jul 21, 2004 | 181 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Since unwittingly getting on the bad, or stinger, side of a hive of hornets last Saturday afternoon, I’ve done a little research and learned a lot about these tyrants of the insect world. On the non-scientific side, I’ve found that most people have a wasp/hornet/yellow jacket tale to tell. These creatures live, after all, where we live.

World Book Encyclopedia says they are among the most intelligent creatures of the insect world, and highly protective of their nests. Well, who would have guessed? In my case, I had just fished a drowned squirrel out of the horses’ water trough with a pitch fork, and was taking it to the trash barrel. It all happened so fast, I’m not sure if I touched the nest with my hand or with the pitch fork, but I had a raging mass around me immediately, some diving inside my shirt before I could get away from them. A thousand electric shocks, it felt like. I can’t remember when I ran so fast or yelled so loud.

I mentioned this episode to the spinning email list and one friend replied with: “One of my great early memories is of my mother running out of a lake-side dressing room with her swim suit half on, followed by a hive of hornets.” My actual first experience with a hornet sting was in an outhouse, attacked from below. Ouch!

The reason bees sting only once and lose their lives and their stingers with the encounter is that their stingers are barbed. Wasps, on the other hand, have relatively smooth stingers, so they can just stab away pretty much as long as there is victim at hand.

Overall, however, the scientific papers say that the wasp/hornet/yellow jacket family is far more beneficial to mankind than it is harmful. They dispose of countless grubs and other unwanted insects. We just don’t want their cozy homes located too close to our cozy homes. And the nest that’s located on the gate to the pasture is going to go away before the end of it’s natural one-season lifespan.

—aft—

I have just a few comments/answers to two of our letter writers of this week. To Bruce Harrison:We ran a lot of material relative to peace marches, both here and elsewhere. I can’t say why the piece you mention didn’t run, but it wasn’t to boycott peace marches. Also, I myself was impressed with the “nude peaceniks” as you put it, and would never attempt to discredit them. As you say, truth is an illusive thing.

To Bill Hughes: You have to know that everything in a meeting cannot be covered in the paper, and we have to leave it to our reporters’ judgment as to what are the most important elements of a meeting. I assume the travel plan you mention didn’t pop to the top of the list for the writer. The subject may surface again.

After two or three weeks with few letters, it’s nice to see the columns filled again.

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