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Wasps! Urgh! What are they good for? Absolutely nothing! Well, you’d think so by the amount of cursing they get around this time of year. People really don’t like wasps, but wasps can’t resist coming to have a look at – and taste of – the interesting things people like to do outside. So conflict inevitably ensures… or at least a lot of flapping about and yelling. But something the Ranger recently spotted at a local market just might hold a solution for the age-old impasse between irate human and yellow-jacketed hymenopteran.
What is this bizarre thing? And what has it to do with wasps? It appears to be simply a roughly-patterned fabric ball with a drawstring at the bottom and a loop at the top. As I was buying my Isle of Wight-grown veg I asked the friendly lady what it was. She explained that it was a Waspinator – a device which repels wasps. And it was very effective, she added. I looked closer, on the lookout for ultrasonic emitters, citronella wicks, snake oil, smoke and mirrors. None of these are to be found on the Waspinator – it’s just a bag. The market traders have stuffed it with plastic bags, to give it a bit of bulk, and hung it up in the middle of the stall. The very comprehensive and unexpectedly wasp-friendly Waspinator website explains further:
The Waspinator is a fake wasps nest. It’s not a wasp trap, it is more like a wasp scarecrow. Wasps are very territorial and will aggressively defend their nest against wasps from another colony. When a foraging wasp sees another wasps nest it will rapidly leave the area for fear of being attacked by the nest’s defenders. Wasps have a very long range of vision and when they see a Waspinator they think it’s an enemy wasps nest and quickly leave the area for somewhere safer, leaving the area around the Waspinator completely free of wasps.
How simple, and apparently, how effective! The market lady was quite sure it worked, and with trays of tasty ripe fruit on display on a hot August afternoon, she ought to know.
Oh, and there’s one further thing to add to this tale – apart from where to buy the Waspinator. My consort Cat only picked up a part of the conversation I was having with the market lady about the Waspinator. As we drove off she quizzed me about it and as I explained, she confessed that she’d thought that the strange hanging ball was actually a Wasp Piñata, which presumably one could hit with a stick to release thousands of angry wasps. She’d been wondering why anyone would do such a thing… perhaps that’s an idea for another product Waspinator Ltd might consider making?