Invasion of the normal-sized hornets

By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener There was strange vibration going on in the Wildlife Gardener’s bedroom today. Ooer. When I went to investigate, I found a hornet clinging to one of the curtains, buzzing forlornly. It did look enormous and rather magnificent from where I was standing.

Spur on hornet's leg

Spur on hornet's leg

I fetched a piece of paper and coaxed it into a pint glass. It crawled about listlessly, then curled up and expired quietly before I had a chance to photograph it at full stretch. It looked like a normal-sized British hornet to me, but I can understand why people think they are monster insects:

  • We shy away from wasps, and these things are four times as big, all wings and legs with SPURS on them! Aaargh!
  • They are really quite long at full stretch, as are their wings, which gives them a sort of cubic largeness
  • They buzz like a microlite, making them sound more terrifying than they are
  • We expect wasps to be black and yellow ” these are weirdly brown, orange and yellow, pale and seemingly mutant, not what we expect

We have been conditioned to fear hornets because of the phrase, ‘to stir up a hornets’ nest’. In fact, I’d rather do that than stir up a wasps’ nest ” hornets are a lot more docile. So I felt just a little sad as my hornet turned up its tail. A creature of beautiful engineering and aeronautical ability, feared and persecuted because of its little cousin. Hornets have been victims of bad PR ” we should learn to love them.

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2 thoughts on “Invasion of the normal-sized hornets

  • 12th July, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Youv’e convinced me!

  • 12th May, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I think I saw 2 hornets whilst out walking last week. They were the size of a European hornet but with black and yellow markings more like a wasp. However, instead of having eyes like cool sunglasses, their eyes looked like an heptagon solid with flat edges. Maybe this is a new breed of hornet, breeding deep in the wilds of Merstone!


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