Monday, 12 May 2008

Black and Yellow Peril

Today I saw my first wasp of the year and it lead me to ask the question: what is the bloody point of a wasp?

I have asked many people this question and nobody has ever given me an answer that convinces me that they serve any function on this planet other than to torment humankind, the little black and yellow buggers.

I have to confess that I am scared of them, hence the point of this post. Bees also sting but at least they appear to be productive and, unlike their detestable cousins, actually serve a purpose in life’s great machine. Wasps are just criminal insects that should be butchered.

There are people out there who love wasps and preach about the good that they do. These people are typically gardeners or naturalists. I think they are crazy. To me there is no argument for the ongoing existence of these yellow and black striped stinging pests but to some their continued presence during the summer months is wholly justified. I mean, how can the fact that they kill other pests be a good thing? The pests they sting and eat are not the kind of vindictive creature that would stab you and then laugh about it as they buzz away in search of their next victim.

So what’s so bad about wasps?

Wasps sting. Not only do wasps sting, wasps sting repeatedly. Not only do they sting repeatedly, they sting for no bloody reason as far as I can tell. Gardeners bleat on about wasps only stinging when provoked. What a load of old cobblers. How can I provoke a wasp just sitting outside a pub in the summer drinking and chatting with friends? Are the little swines jealous? No of course they’re not; the little bleeders come in groups and attack a table full of innocent people causing the people to react in one of three ways. A person will throw their arms around, screaming like a little baby as the wasp hovers close by laughing its little head off. Either that or they will run around like a demented imbecile being chased by the giggling black and yellow bugger. Or maybe, the so-called brave ones will sit there and allow the wasp to indulge by letting the warped creature wander over their body. And then the little sod will sting (of course in this case the person probably deserves it).

Unlike bees, who really do only sting in self defence, when a wasp stings it does not die. Bees therefore have to think very carefully about who or what they sting. The pro-wasp lobby would argue that wasps, too, only sting in self defence but let’s just look at the evidence. Ask yourself how many people you know have suffered a bee sting and then compare that with the number of people you know who have been stung by a wasp. I think you will find that there is no comparison whatsoever.

Wasp stings can be fatal. Just let that statement sink in. I hasten to add that this is not a normal reaction; however, there are extreme cases where people have suffered a wasp sting and suffered anaphylactic shock. Again the pro-wasp lobby will say that such cases are very rare indeed. Having never been stung by a wasp I personally do not want to find out the hard way whether I am one of those rare cases.

Wasp nests can contain from 3000 to 5000 individual wasps in late summer. If you are unfortunate enough to have a wasp nest in your garden or, worse, in a roof space of your house, then the likelihood of being stung increases quite a lot. The experts say that if you discover a wasp nest that is occupied then you should leave it undisturbed. What fantastic advice – especially if it is in your own home.

From my experience, wasps love to persecute humans and instinctively know when a person is scared to death of them. During the summer months, if you see a person running around screaming and waving their arms in the air like a demented windmill you will usually see one or more wasps in pursuit and I’m sure that if you listen closely to the buzzing noise you will hear a form of insectile laughter. And that person will almost certainly be me. When confronted by a wasp, a primeval survival instinct takes over and I run, fuelled by fear and adrenalin, knocking over tables, chairs and children and screaming like a banshee while other people and wasps observe and enjoy the impromptu comedy performance.

Wasps humiliate me. Wasps annoy me. Wasps can hurt me. Wasps could kill me. Wasps serve no other purpose in the big picture than that.

That is why, if I were given a single omnipotent wish, I would give serious consideration to committing insect genocide on a global scale, removing all traces of the little yellow and black stinging bastards from planet earth. That’s what wasps do to me; I could solve all the world’s ills in one go but instead I want to eradicate billions of insects.

Regrettably I will never be granted such a wish. In the meantime I will approach the problem in my own tiny way by killing any wasp that crosses my path and eliminate the buggers one by miserable one.

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