The Good, the Bad, and the Wasps

Wasps have built a nest just outside the window by my computer. They must have done the work in the past few days while I was preoccupied by my dad's infection and hospital adventures.

Wasps are beneficial insects in the gardener's battle against pest caterpillars, but they give me the Lee Van Cleef shivers. Or, possibly, Lee Van Cleef gives me the wasp shivers. I wouldn't want to find either of them sitting at my kitchen table.

This is the best view I've had of wasp behavior in thirty years. As newlyweds our first apartment featured wasp nests outside the big old windows, and all too often wasps inside the apartment. When a wasp was killed as an indoor intruder, the other wasps seemed to have a ritual resembling a funeral outside the window. It was downright creepy. I was sure the wasps were plotting revenge.

Just a year or so ago I finally watched "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" for the first time. The instant Lee Van Cleef appeared as Angel Eyes, I had a creepy plotting revenge wasp revulsion shiver down my spine. I get the same insectile shiver and cold sweat whenever I see Darth Cheney on television!

Paper wasps are the papier mache artists of the insect world, creating their nests from chewed wood and plant materials. From my vantage point, I can watch them working at the hexagonal cells of their nest. When I took this photo they became still for about fifteen minutes. I was feeling guilty for killing them by flash camera, when they got back to business. What that business is, I'm not sure.

© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder

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