27 April 2011



Putting this post together made me itchy.

I've been thinking about wasps lately. It's just about time for them to make their annual assault on my backyard. The dog has been stung several times on his face. I'm not into spraying or killing bugs at all, and I could not figure out what they were attracted to in the yard. (We've got a lot of flowers, no fruit trees, but the flowers could do it.)  I found a good solution to this problem in a fake paper wasps nest that I hang outside, on my porch, in the spring time. Apparently wasps are intensely territorial, so having something that looks like a nest in your yard will keep them away.

The more I learn and understand about social, colony-dwelling insects, the more I think they are great models for alien societies in speculative fiction. Their behaviour is single-minded yet complex. Their capacity for interacting with their environment and with other species is positively mind-blowing.

(The second video is super, super gross, by the way.)

ETA: More details on the virus that the wasp injects along with its larvae in this New Scientist article. It seems the wasps are hijacking two separate live forms - the caterpillar and the virus - in order to pull off this parasitic stunt that is so vital to their reproductive cycle. Amazing.


Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Mmmm.... Not too keen on wasps or bees but I know what yuo mean about inspiration. Kind of reminds me of those War of the World epics where giant machines (that looked like huge metal insects) terrorised Earth. Keep up the good work, Elizabeth.

Ann said...

I need one of those hives to fake out the wasps from my garden. Where do you get one of those! Goggle here I come.

Claudie A. said...

You're right, that is positively disgusting. I couldn't help but watch it from beginning to end, though! Gross but fascinating. ^^

Elizabeth Twist said...

@Pat: I am thinking ahead to Story a Day in May. I need material for those short stories! The YouTube comments on that second video are fascinating...people very consistently found it super disturbing. Great fodder for fiction!

@Ann: The brand I used is called "Bee-Free Natural Wasp Deterrent." I happened on it by chance at my local grocery store. Very easy to use, and no worries about chemicals. (No they are not sponsoring this blog...)

@Claudie: I was super grossed out until the part where the caterpillar survives the larvae, and then starts behaving unusually. I would like to know more about the virus they are talking about.

Zombie virus, anyone?

jkraus8464 said...

I did some research on some wasps that paralyze their victim alive and leave them as food. Amazing stories about creatures.

Nas said...

Amazing stories about these wasps and bees! Thanks!

Trisha said...

I think these creatures are amazing, even if I wouldn't want to be in a dark alley with them :D