Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Big stinger

Just as Bill Ely solves my wasp riddle - see two posts below - look what's flown in. A hornet. Poor thing, it's really quite impressive and finely-coloured, but who doesn't have an atavistic fear of this kind of insect? I never remember seeing one in my childhood, although we spoke fearfully of them after reading about them in natural history books by the likes of Enid Blyton. Mind you, we did sing more tolerantly about them in chapel.

Ev'n the hornet hives his honey,
Bluecap builds his stately dome,
And the rocks supply the coney
With a fortress and an home.
But the servants of their Saviour,
Which with gospel-peace are shod,
Have no bed but what the paviour
Makes them in the porch of God.

Good stuff there, from Christopher Smart. Hornets seem much more solitary than wasps in my experience, but they do indeed build nests and hive honey. Hornet honey? Would that sell? Actually, I just did a quick Google and there deos seem to be a product called Giant Japanese Hornet Honey, complete with vast pickled insect. But it cost £24 a jar and was out of stock.

As you can see above and below, Penny and I caught this one in a glass for the purposes of safe photography. I read later that a hornet in distress can summon its mates by emitting a 'distress pheromone' but fortunately this system doesn't seem to penetrate glass.


Banished To A Pompous Land said...

Impressive Martin. many many wasps over this side but oddly they don't stress one the same way. They all seem very single-minded in their building projects. Theres a fantastic range of mud tubes, globes, little 2 and 3 cell paper structures. Most just don't have the time or inclination to be that big of a pain as the good old Brit wazzie! It took my trip to Scotland last summer to remind me just what a bane they are to the UK summer.

sarah meredith said...

Hello Banished - I hope you are not referring to the US of A as "pompous"! We are a lot of things, but I don't think "pompous" is one of them. But back to Martin - it just so happened that I was stung by a hornet today! I should have had a glass, but I didn't. My studio is crawling with them right now and usually, as Banished pointed out, they don't bother, but today I happened to pick something up and didn't see the fellow right there. I am here to report that it STUNG! It made me feel so sorry for little kids when they step on the wrong flower in their bare feet. A sting is no joke! xxs

MartinWainwright said...

Goodness! I've just read your comment S and am telepthing as much in the way Waspeze or dock leaf juice or whatever other balm may ease the pain. Are they a lot worse than wasp stings? I'm sorry you have so many - they are still pretty rare visitors here. Get destung soon.

You'll have to have big debate about 'pompus' with one another and I am happy to play host!

Very interesting too about your wasps focussing on building Banished. I get that impression here. It's just a shame that humans get in the way sometimes and get stung, as our son Ollie did on his last visit here. Sleepy wasps are the worst - maybe tour hornet was in that category, S, and grumpy and being woken up. Even by an artist.


MartinWainwright said...

For the first time ever, Blogspot went a bit weird last week and a comment from Famed American Painter Sarah arrived here and then disappeared and hasn't returned.
It's shame because it was about how she'd just been stung by a hornet - eek. They visit her studio quite often, apparently, and she picked up a leaf as part of her still-life painting and - ouch - it contained a hornet. But the sting seems to have eased soon enough.
They are amazing little builders, banished. We are in two minds about the nestlet in our shed, but fear it will have to go. All v best M

Bill Ely said...

The only honey in a wasp or hornet nest will be the result of raiding a bee's nest! These are hunters, not gatherers.