Wendy Wasp

On the west lawn at the Priory is a laburnum tree (L. anagyroides).  I’ve never been a big fan of laburnum: a small tree usually growing in suburban  front gardens which bursts into yellow bloom in Spring – and then fades away again for the rest of the year.

In half-hearted flower – Spring 2011

But our laburnum  grows out of a bank, beneath the beech hedging, at an alarming angle. And for that reason alone (it doesn’t flower very impressively), I’m rather fond of it.
Look closely underneath the tree and you’ll notice that the lawn hasn’t been mown properly.  Good for nothing gardener, you might think but for once I have an excuse.
There’s a wasp nest, you see.  As I discovered the other week when I mowed over it.  Suddenly there was a salvo, an eruption of wasps about my head.  Being of a temperate and manly disposition, I shouted a word of warning to anyone who may have been in the vicinity and then strode quickly but calmly to one side (He shrieked like a twelve-year-old girl and trampled an elderly dog walker and toddler in his haste to get away – Ed).  I had to wait two hours for the annoyed swarm to calm down so that I could gingerly retrieve the mower.  Remarkably, I didn’t get stung.
I’ve found by mowing around the nest we can live in waspish harmony.  A bit of longer grass under the laburnum and hey, I don’t get hurt.  Good deal.
Underground wasp nests are generally in an abandoned mammal hole or a natural crack in the soil but by studying the needle-bottomed ones, I could see that they were carrying out crumbs of soil.
They might have inhabited an old hole but they were enlarging it.   Certainly the hole has grown larger and larger.  What are they doing down there?  What are they making?  What are they building?  Perhaps it’s best not to know.
You don’t really get a sense of the waspishness of a wasp’s nest from these photos, so I’ve made a video clip.  I wasn’t sure how to go about doing this (uploading and all) so I spent a long time learning how to reformat, edit and the rest.  I’m not sure it was worth all that effort and – as I used my mobile phone – the quality isn’t great.  Apologies.
I got stung immediately after taking the video.  So no, I’m not sure it was worth it.

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12 thoughts on “Wendy Wasp

  1. Hi Petra, sorry the vid was a little wobbly? Down to unadulterated fear.

    Jane, I'm planning a one man rendition of 'Consider Yourself' – rehearsals start today.

    When I was a kid, GS, I poked a stick into a wasp nest like the one above (I'm not very bright) – the results were predictable. So, yeah I'd leave well alone.

    Faisal, I see. I might recreate the scene where Tim stood on a similar nest whilst cutting the mixed hedging. He got stung ten times or so about the head. 'Attack of the Killer Wasps' – I shall start writing the script. (Audiences can be so demanding – and PICKY).

    It is a bit of a hazard, yes Janet. I've actually mown over two wasps nest – and not got stung. I only did get stung on getting a little too close with my camera phone. They are obviously jealous of their privacy.

    Thanks for that thought Janet P. A huge nest snaking it's way all over the grounds – nice! The next production may be a little safer, 'Pretty flowers wot I like,' perhaps.

    Stacy, lazy, indolent wasps sound much more my kind of thing. Care to swap? Mine don't seem to take direction – lots of ad libbing and naturalistic acting. Still, I'll probably win an Oscar for best documentary I expect.

    Blood? Blood, Alberto? I think I've suffered quite enough thanks. Blood? I feel faint.

    Helen, pleased to hear you didn't poison your wasp nest. I've read that they rarely reuse nests but you might want to seal up the hole to make doubly sure.

    Hi Elaine, welcome. In theory they don't return but I should have a word so that they are aware of that fact.

    Dave

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  2. you were lucky not to get stung. I have a wasps nest right outside my bedroom window which has meant that I have had the have the window shut all summer but I would rather do that than destroy the wasps. As soon as they go I will seal up the hole they have been using

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  3. What if they're not building anything down there? Maybe they just smuggle mud to those other wasps… the ones that build tiny post by my window blinds.

    …and yeah! I wish we could see some blood next time!

    Alberto.

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  4. Impressive–your first independent film production, and you already have a cast of thousands. They don't seem to take direction very well, though. Our wasps seem to be more lazy and mañana-ish–more likely to bump into you because they couldn't be bothered to get out of the way than to chase after you with fell intent.

    I read a while ago about the incredibly organized and intelligent behavior in ant colonies. This wasn't it, but it's the same guy's work. I wonder if wasps have any of the same systems. (I.e., if they might be about to take over the planet.)

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  5. An anxious production indeed! I had no idea that wasps could dig. I wonder if all those apparently separate nests are actually linked underground into a large subterranean city… I think not mowing under the characterful laburnum is a wise choice. Look forward to the next Anxious Production. Better start designing the T shirts and coffee mugs…

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  6. Sorry you got stung, Dave but it did make me laugh. Wasps nests here are usually hanging off beams etc not in the ground. Makes it sound like a bit of an occupational hazard…

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  7. Dave, the photos are remarkable. Life and gardening on the Priory are so different than my quotidian experiences. But I do have wasps nesting under an eave of the shed. I won't venture to photograph or video.

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  8. Well hello! New format, new media, it's all go at the Priory! Enjoyed the video though did feel a tad drunk whist watching it… ! Careful with those wapsies, we found two similar nests and they certainly don't want to be disturbed, let alone mowed over!

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