But I’ve got a baby!

No, not me, I’ll explain in a moment.

Before the seasonal declaration of apostrophe manoeuvres

It’s been a quiet week here at wasp HQ, I’ve been out to a few wasps’ nests but the weather has been so dreadful that nobody is outside to notice they have wasps. Of the nests I’ve seen, one was still just being built by a single queen*, most had a few workers hatched and one was really busy with a second hatching which provided sufficient workers for an attack batallion. The Boss reckons it will go nuts any day now, the second hatching is when people start to get upset and beg for help.

People have been mostly nice so far this year. The sort who thank you for turning up so fast and express an interest. One lady told me she was pleased to have been quizzed on the phone about whether she had wasps or bees and had found my fancy new webpage most informative.

“I did Zoology at uni,” she told me proudly. “So I know the difference anyway but it was interesting to read more.”
“Ah well, you’ll know the proper names for things,” I schmoozed. “I just tell people that wasps have waists.”
“Do they?” She toddled off for another look at the computer. By the time I was done, she’d checked for herself. “Wasps do have waists!” It seemed to make her happy.

Not so happy though, the lady with not-a-wasps’-nest.

Not known to influence the biology of hymenoptera

“There were loads of them in the house last night!”
“In the house, whereabouts?”
“They came in the airbrick and through the smoke alarms into the upstairs hall.”
“Hmm, that means you don’t have a nest.”
“Of course I do, it’s in the airbrick.”
“No, ma’am, if they are coming into the house you don’t have a nest, because if there’s a nest, they go into the nest. Not the house. I think you’ve had a visit from a honeybee swarm and they’ve moved on. How many did you see?”
“Dozens!”
“That’s bees, with wasps you only see two or three, have you had any in the house today?”
“No.”
“Your problem has gone then. It’s scary but common, they won’t come back.”
“But I’ve got a baby.”
“You still don’t have a wasps’ nest.” She seems disappointed.
“Can’t you poison the airbrick?
“There’s no point ma’am, there’s nothing to kill.”
“But I’ve got a baby!” She is outraged now.
“I do know you have a baby, and I’m not belittling your concern, but whether you do or don’t have a baby makes no difference to whether you do or don’t have a wasps’ nest.”

I treated the airbrick, just to shut her up. It was pelting down with rain, our powder clogs up in the rain. The brick was two storeys up  in a roof gable. That meant five meters of lance to screw together, unscrew, unblock piece by piece, screw together again, unscrew, unblock again and repeat. I was there an hour.

Expecting one’s personal circumstances to make a difference to the habits of insects seems to be quite common. I went out to a lady last year who had a couple of bumblebees nesting in a compost heap behind the shed at the bottom of her garden. They were perfectly harmless and I told her so. “But my grandson’s very ill, he’s been to Great Ormond Street.” She added, “In London!” to ramp up the drama a little.

I really shouldn’t have replied, “Well in that case it’s probably best not to send him to play in the compost heap behind your shed.” This year I have resolved to be diplomatic to all.

Now then lads, on my command, one place to the right…wait for it…

*A note about the seasonal apostrophe. Invented by (we think) the Boss, who is another grammar nazi, this apostrophe moves one place to the right part way through the season. To begin with, in April and May, the nest is being built by a lone queen wasp, it is therefore a wasp’s nest. Sometime in June, when the first workers hatch, it becomes, of course, a wasps’ nest. the official move of seasonal apostrophe was declared on June 10th this year.

More from the wasp face soon.


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