Sunday, October 19, 2014

It smarts: 26 students stung by hornets in Kumamoto

26 students stung by hornets in Kumamoto

I don't think I've ever been stung by a hornet, but I've survived bee and wasp attacks.  When I was about 8 years old, some friends and I were trying to pull a toy machine gun out of a bush where it was stuck.  We disturbed a bee's nest and out they came, filling the air and stinging us repeatedly while we ran away screaming.  We met up later to compare damage.  I think I came off best, with four stings that weren't all that painful.  One of my friends had six.  Years later I crouched down to pet a bulldog and trapped a wasp in the meat behind my knee.  It stung me once, causing me to stand up rather abruptly and free it to go off and kill again.  That one hurt like a hot needle and left a nasty sore that took a few days to heal.  In the years between, I'm sure I was stung here and there by individual insects but not as spectacularly as either of those.

Large hornets sometimes sneak into our apartment.  The largest hornets I've ever seen.  They look like flying telephone handsets from the coiled cord days.  I can't say I blame them for coming in and trying to make themselves at home.  Our apartment is a comfortable place and we certainly enjoy it.  What I don't like is how they hug the windows and refuse to participate in conversations no matter how we try to engage them.  I'm willing to discuss the sharpness of stingers, flight dynamics, living in bushes.  Whatever interests them.  But since they're a little standoffish, I find it best to shoo them out the sliding glass door on our balcony before feelings are hurt.

We're having a battle with wasps right now.  A few months ago, wasps nested in our mailbox.  The rental company warned us away and hired someone to come remove them.  Now there's a nest on our bedroom window.  My wife found it yesterday and called the office.  The rental company's solution this time is to tell us not to open that window.  Which we rarely do anyway.  Eventually they'll get around to sending someone to kill these wasps or relocate them back to the mailbox.

Going out to our car this morning, we were dive-bombed by several wasps, more than likely from the bedroom window.  Sleek black helicopter-shaped attackers zipped in and around us while we dodged.  I'm not particularly afraid of wasps, but I'd prefer to remain sting-free.  This does not extend to my musical tastes because I have been known to listen to early albums from the Police.

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