Monday, September 4, 2017

Fear and Loathing of Ground Wasp Nests

Ground nesting wasps are a field work hazard I have noted previously (fall wasps). My latest sting adventure did give me a bit of a scare. My feet plowed through a nest as I was sliding down a slope though thick brush. The roar of wasps swarming around me was disconcerting and my escape route required reversing direction and crawling back up the steep slope through the brush hole I had come through. A couple of back slips while scrambling over the lip of the slope while surrounded by wasps is not a wildlife interaction that I would want to repeat.

One lesson I have learned is that after putting some distance from the nest removing clothes is a good idea. I had a least 10 wasps on my shirt. I squashed about 20 on my pants as fast as I could and got my pants off with only one additional sting where one got down below my waste.

My understanding is that in the process of stinging pheromones are released that stimulate more wasps to attack and sting. Squashing them of course releases the pheromones. That appeared to be verified when I got my pants back on and went to retrieve my shirt. Four wasps lifted of my shirt and went straight to my pant legs where I had smashed wasps.

A spare set of clothes would be a good scheme. I spent the rest of the slope investigation a bit paranoid. This may have been in part due to my watching Fortitude with a premise of parasitic wasps coming out of thawing woolly mammoths.

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