Notes on nature: stories of fear.

For the last month, it seems, queen bees and wasps have been sneaking into our house just so that they can bumble against our windows. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve returned outdoors.

Maybe it’s just the same one or two, irritated to find themselves trapped in a glass tumbler, then ushered out. Perhaps, after that, they lurk nearby, watching for their moment to fly back in.

I thought the first two or three I caught might have hibernated somewhere inside, in a fold of the curtain, perhaps, all winter. After day four, though, that seemed less likely. I may be a bit of a casual cleaner, but the house isn’t that big. Besides, we’ve had the wood-burner stoked pretty warm at times this winter, if the trigger is temperature they should have shown themselves much earlier in the year.

It seems, therefore, that we live in an insect des-res. I’m not sure what that says about us.

At any rate, Rusty would prefer us not to. An unfortunate early encounter with buzzing insects has given him a powerful aversion. He’ll even quit the settee to avoid being in the same room with that threat. Very often, the first indicator of a winged squatter is Rusty hurrying in from another room to snuggle behind my knees.

‘Aren’t you supposed to protect me?’ I ask, as I gather my improvised humane insect trap and go to investigate.

It’s the bumble-bees I like best. I know that wasps are a useful part of the ecosystem, and do not exist just to get mean-drunk on fruit juice in the autumn, but still, I give them more respect than affection.

Queen bumble-bees are, sort of, cute. Apart from the name, there’s all that fur. It makes them so improbably big, and clumsy looking, that the idea that they should fly, borders on comic.

So, I evict, but I find them all fascinating, even the hornet that visited last year. While the bees and wasps seem indifferent to my presence, I had the impression that the hornet watched me. It was a hot day, but her size, and slow entry, was chilling.

I followed Rusty’s rapid exit, slamming the door behind us. Once we were safe, he began to bark with excitement. I leaned against the door, thinking in cliches of fear.

It took several deep breaths before I could convince myself to dash back in and open the other two windows. Then I waited, outside, watching the hornet reverse my glass trick.

She circled calmly, investigating every corner and object. Once, she landed on the window in front of me, and crawled slowly across it. I stepped back, ready to run, but she wasn’t ready to leave.

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18 thoughts on “Notes on nature: stories of fear.

  1. My dog is fly-phobic. She just hates the buzzing and will run out of the room. I think I’m like you, Cath – not particularly frightened of bees and wasps. I had so many wasps in the walls of my writing room that for a whole summer, the place hummed. Fortunately not attached to the house. πŸ˜€ I’m happy spring is finally here, even with the insects!

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    • Fly-phobic must be tricky, Diana. Throughout the year I would estimate that we have far more flies in the house than wasps and bees.

      Yes, I do admit that another reason for my tolerance of the bees and wasps is that they’re a sure signal spring has arrived, even when the weather might be trying to convince me otherwise.

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  2. Ahh, the barriers of our shared language. There are lots of words I know don’t make the Atlantic crossing, but I hadn’t realised that was one of them. Thanks for dropping by, Neil.

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  3. Ushering them out is good. With flies you can herd them by creating currents of air – they don’t like the disturbance and move away. Not sure if it works with bees, wasps and hornets though! I hope you got back into the house. πŸ˜‰

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    • That hornet took an hour, and I watched the whole time, to be certain she’d really vacated, rather than settled into a nook. So I could try flapping a tea towel? I didn’t realise that, thanks for the tip.

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      • Also they go towards the light (flies I mean) so shutting off light sources as well as closing doors to leave only one exit can help. It also helps if there’s more than one of you to create a wider disturbance and leave the clear air as the path to the exit. I have managed it solo by leaping around waving my arms. But take care of yourself and your precious objects too of course!

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  4. Oh, I’m a squisher of everything but bees. The kids get so frantic, especially Blondie, hiding her face behind a stuffed animal and coming to me on the verge of tears. “Moooooom, there’s a spider in my room.” I go in there, and it’s a tiny little house thing, but she’s ready to cry, so I take my thumb and squish. Peace again! I became a squisher in Milwaukee, where the parsonage was riddled with centipedes as long as my hand. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew…..

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      • I’m not into squishing anything, even spiders. Like you, I use the glass and cardboard device to remove such insects after opening doors and windows hoping they move on. I also have a solar sound deterrent. Tilly likes chasing flies but she only stares at the bees and wasps. I think she knows what they can do.

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        • What a sensible girl Tilly must be.

          I’m intrigued by the solar sound deterrent. I bought one that was supposed to stop cats, for a niece who used to live in house where the garden was plagued. She said it made absolutely no difference. Perhaps insects are more susceptible.

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          • I originally bought one to deter mice as well as insects. Not sure how successful they are or whether it is coincidence that fewer arrive and remain. Plenty of spiders around and they are supposed to be one of the insects deterred. If is working then thank goodness or I’d have a Miss Faversham house. Easier to rid myself of the insects than cobwebs.

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