Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hornet story part 2

As some might have guessed, those "pets" are rather docile, to the point of pining for the fjords.

Shortly after I was stung, jules said she spotted another hornet in the same vicinity. So on Thursday morning, we went down there for a closer look. As soon as we approached and got off the bike, we noticed them whizzing backwards and forwards across the road and into and out of a tree trunk where they obviously had a nest, though we didn't get close. It was right on the main road, where lots of cyclists and pedestrians pass by each day, so I'm pretty surprised it had not already been reported. It's the tree right in the middle of the picture, just to the left of the rubbish station (where the local residents leave their bin bags to be collected every morning). The building behind is the public toilet in Kamakura-gu. It's hard to believe I'm the only one to have been stung there.

We took this pic to identify the spot and went straight off to the city office, in the hope that they would deal with it, though I didn't know what the procedure was. I had hardly managed to stumble over pronouncing "suzumebachi" (hornet) to the lady on reception before she replied (in Japanese) "ah, you want desk 29, straight down the corridor". At the appointed desk, we managed to talk to the hornet man, who apologised for being really busy, and said he wouldn't be able to do anything until...the next afternoon. I think we were lucky to catch him first thing in the morning before he went out for his day full of appointments.

However, on the way home that night, it had already been dealt with. It turns out that the tree was completely hollow at its base, and the nest had been poisoned and removed, though there were still a few larvae wriggling around and some lonely hornets buzzing around disconsolately.

Jules picked up a couple of corpses for the sake of identification, and we are pretty confident that they are yellow hornets, which the web tells us are rather aggressive around their nests and in fact the most common stingers in Japan. They are quite similar to the European hornet, but perhaps a bit nastier (according to some web pages).

I just hope the survivors won't tell their friends up in the forest that it was all my fault...


EliRabett said...

Eli had couple of friends, an entomologist and a natural products chemist who were well known in DC for "collecting" samples. Not only would you be rid of the nest, but would have contributed to science

andrewt said...

One trick to get docile poikilotherms for photography is to cool them - e.g. 10 minutes in fridge. I haven't done it with a wasp but I've done it when I wanted good pics of a captured frog.

At least around here Polistes chinensis (Japanese Paper Wasp) will let you poke your camera within a few cm of a nest.