Oh the irony, on the very day I get my Buglife membership pack, intent on supporting a charity who are fighting to protect our most prescious ‘brownfield’ sites from development, I step on a wasp nest while doing a survey of a river channel.
I had probably been standing on the wasp nest for a good twenty minutes before I realised what I had done, intent as I was on trying to indentify an unusual dragonfly. The wasps clearly felt that they had been patient long enough and this huge dark shadow wasn’t about to move so they began to crawl up into my trouser legs. Even then I didn’t become aware of them until they began to also swarm around my head and sting.
I did what any self respecting person would do. I ran. flinging my trousers off with abandon, despite the busy road nearby. Several wasps flew away. I put my trousers back on, only to find more wasps still in there, wedged between the folds in the material. Off the trousers came again and this time I put them on inside out to be sure.
Decidedly shaken, I limped back across the field but thought better of trying to retrieve my bag and binoculars, which were now covered with a mass of angry bodies. I trudged back across to my car, the shock having subsided, my leg now felt as if it had been stabbed multiple times with a poison dart (which indeed it had) and shooting pains were skedaddling along its length. There was nothing to do but wait, suck up the pain and sit tight until the wasps calmed down and I could go back for my stuff.
I poured a hot drink from my thermos and opened my Buglife magazine, only to be faced with a picture of a wasp. “Aggressive and can sting multiple times,” I read. They weren’t kidding but actually I had got off pretty lightly, amazed, when I checked, to find only two stings, the jabs I had felt after that I could only imagine had been inflicted by the wasps jaws. As my leg reddened and the pain increased I had to give the wasps the respect they were due, for a small creature they can pack quite a punch.