Tag Archives: bees

Anaphylaxis? Don’t Believe I Care for Any . . .

As a kid, did you ever have an adult tell you not to do something? What was the first thing you’d do? Allow me to give you an example. I grew up in a rural area. We were inundated each summer with every type of stinging insect you could imagine. Whether it be a hornet’s nest, a wasp’s nest, a beehive, a yellow jacket’s nest (normally built under ground), or any number of bugs with a stinger that you could pretty much imagine from anywhere, I could find that nest close if not attached to my house.

I recall being told by an adult not to mess with a yellow jacket’s nest located underground close to our backyard peach tree. I paid attention long enough to reach the tool shed, open the door, and then, grab a can of gas. I began to pour the gas down the hole leading to the nest, but leaving too much leeway between pours, the extremely agitated yellow clad warriors began to swarm, which in turn put me on the run. One of the insects chased me down sixty feet and stung me on the thumb, proving how tenacious they can be when threatened.

In a similar incident, I was warned to stay away from a large hornet’s nest built into one of our neighborhood apple trees. It was twice as big as a football and just begged to be assaulted. One of my childhood friends and I decided we were the ones to do the deed. Standing a good distance off, we hammered the nest with dirt clods until there was only about half of it left. Wouldn’t you know it; one of the black and yellow avengers nailed my friend in his upper arm.

Numerous interactions with stinging insects followed through my childhood and into my life as an adult, have taught me several things. tenacity can be a good thing when aimed at career oriented goals. (In my case writing) Furthermore, live and let live, and don’t mess with something that you believe is too small to cause you any harm.

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Don’t Bother Me, I’m Chasing Honeybees Amongst the Pretty Blue Flowers. Now Bug Off!

European hornet Français : Frelon (Vespa crabro)

European hornet  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things that creep, crawl, scurry and buzz their way into our psyche are a part of daily life we cannot escape. If I were to attempt to discuss the entire insect world, it would take the better part of a lifetime to read this post. Instead, I will stick with a few species that are familiar in my neck of the woods and what I have learned about them through my years on this planet.

Without too much scientific mumbo jumbo, of course.

I will say, however, that it is estimated that there are at least ten quintillion insects currently inhabiting the Earth. And yet we’re the ones screaming about overpopulation with our measly six billion.

We’ll choose from this monolith a few species native to Virginia. Among the stinging insects we have honeybees, bumblebees, carpenter bees, paper wasps, yellow-jackets, hornets, and the Pièce de résistance, the Japanese Hornet.

Have you ever seen someone who was scared of a stinging insect? Get the two within close proximity and you’ll have a form of modern dance on your hands, never before witnessed by human eyes. Other than that, these various bees, wasps and hornets fly around, gathering nectar, killing other insects and making babies.

We will now slip into the depths reserved only for the dreaded Japanese Hornet. This beast has been known to kill at least forty people a year…In Japan. What we have in this country is the European Hornet, which is often mistaken for its violent Asian counterpart. And despite popular myths, the hornets that reside in the mid-Atlantic region are less aggressive and no more poisonous than smaller stinging insects. In fact, they will defend their nest vigorously only when provoked and have been known to retreat from human aggressors.

Onto the wonderful world of creepy-crawlies. Namely, the American Cockroach. Why the American Cockroach, you ask? Because among the four most common species (the German, the Asian, the Oriental and American) the American is the largest and lives the longest. Like the Oriental, it can also fly. And on top of all these reasons, this cockroach is an American cockroach. And as you may know, Virginia is in America.

Another tid-bit you may not know about our friend the cockroach: When decapitated, cockroaches can still survive for several weeks. If given nutrients and put in the refrigerator, the head can live even longer. This tells me one very important piece of information about this hearty insect: It’s stupid.

Have you ever seen someone who is scared of creepy-crawlies? They too, when in close proximity to one of these six-legged creatures, can create an interpretive dance that rivals even the best Russian ballerinas.

And last but not least, the piss-ant.

Well, there ain’t so such thing. The term can apply to any wood ant. The formic acid they excrete produces a urine-like odor, hence the name “piss-ant.”

Well there you have it. Our excursion through the Virginian insect world. …Hey! That gives me an idea for my next novel: A radioactive praying mantis mates with a twelve-legged bumble bee and produces an Americanized Japanese Hornet. I can see it now. Bestseller here I come!

Postscript: I bet you’re thinking “spiders would have been a good thing to include in this post.” But since they are actually arachnids, they just wouldn’t fit. And man oh man, talk about interpretive dance…

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