Saturday, August 02, 2008

Hornets, frozen in death

You know what? You really don't want to see images of dead hornets still clinging to their nest as they were last week when they stepped out to deal with the assault on their home, only to fall prey to the potent insect neurotoxin that had permeated the entire structure. No, you'd probably much rather look at this picture from inside the "food tent" (really a permanent building) at the St. Mary's Parish Festival last night. (Still going on tonight! Hurry, hurry, hurry!)

Or perhaps you'd rather see images taken along the main concourse, as people from St. Mary's and all around the area line up to buy potato pancakes and pierogies and french fries with vinegar and beer and soda, and hand over their money in games of chance to win donated prizes?

Or maybe you'd rather look at the crepuscular rays of the setting sun as it went down last night over what was once the nursing home where my grandmother lived her final years?

Or perhaps you'd like to look at this billowing cloud, so full of water, forming over a mountain range to our south just an hour or so ago?

Well, whatever. You've had your chance. Turn back now if you don't want to see dead hornets.

Are they gone now?


I honestly felt bad about killing these insects, even if they are the dreaded Bald-Faced Hornets, which I still haven't established conclusively. These are predatory insects whose primary food is other insects - often very destructive insects. They play a valuable role in the ecosystem. In any case, who am I to decide who shall live and who shall die?

But they were on the side of my mom's house, right along a narrow strip of lawn I have to cut regularly, in striking distance of a well-travelled sidewalk, two neighbors' houses, and a line of blueberry bushes that I planted years ago where I regularly harvest blueberries with my nephews. They posed too much of a threat. I couldn't let them stay.

So I killed them.

And there they are. A week's worth of weather has possibly moved them around a bit, and their location in the shadows under the eaves makes it hard to get a good, sharp image. But you can see at least two of them locked in place - one at the very opening of the nest, and one ready to launch from the front.

Too bad. That's a beautiful nest, and they are really beautiful insects. But they posed a threat - to my mom, to my nephews, to my mom's neighbors, to people walking down the sidewalk, even to me. I couldn't abide that.

So they're dead now. I killed them. They don't pose a threat any more.

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