Before the break in the weather, I was checking out the back border bank looking for spaces for a few new plants when I heard a distant noise. A fairly high-pitched hum, a cross between a dentist’s drill and a small helicopter droned in the distance. There appeared to be nothing in the sky so I took little notice and continued looking for a good space for some Penstamen flowers that had just been purchased. Suddenly, something large shot past my face and with it the sound of the drill. It headed downwards and landed in a half coconut that I had partly filled with raisins for the blackbirds. At first, I thought it must be some foreign insect because of its size .. some 30 mm. It was yellow with brown stripes and at it’s neck the brown turned into more of a brown claret. It’s mouth was placed on one of the raisins and it appeared to be sucking at the fruit which had expanded with an over-night shower. Then in a second it had buzzed up and away over the fence. Within a moment or two it arrived back with one of its comrades. Unlike other striped insects that seem to be attracted to people and fly around them, these acted as though I was completely invisible. They sucked at the raisins and I rushed into the house for the camera. I managed to take a couple of pictures of them and then set about trying to identify them in an insect book. They were listed as hornets, the largest member of the wasp family and the only one with brown stripes.
Hornet, Vespa crabro – 30 mm
- It is the fear of pain that often saves us from falling off the edge of cliffs.