Immediate, sharp pain.
That’s the perfect way to describe it.
And it was delivered swiftly on a recent summer’s afternoon to one member of our editorial board who now has a very healthy respect for bald-faced hornets.
For those of you who are not entomologists, you can differentiate these hornets from their relatives, yellow jackets, by the distinct white markings on their face and elsewhere.
But don’t get too close to check their stripes — especially if you are holding a pair of gas-powered shears directly over a nest that you don’t see while cutting azaleas.
That could lead to getting stung repeatedly, as our poor colleague did recently.
After he was done shouting in pain (it took a few minutes) and applying After Bite to his wrist and chest (the bites drew blood in each area), he went back to see what exactly stung him and where they came from.
It took some searching, but finally he discovered a softball-sized paper nest perfectly tucked — and disguised — into the bush where he was working.
After the initial shock and pain subsided, the experience led to a grudging respect for the hornets known for aggressively defending their nests and Mother Nature in general.
Due to the very digital, not-so-outdoorsy lifestyles led by many of us, it’s easy to forget about all the little creatures that occupy the same world we do.
And remember, what we refer to as mere pests are actually incredibly well-adapted survivors that have existed millions of years longer than mankind.
Did you know bees have been here for at least 100 million years? And scientists believe they evolved from hunting wasps, which means the wasp has been around even longer.
That’s a lot of time to perfect your role in the natural order of things, and bees and wasps have done just that.
Consider how something so small can exist so long and pack such a powerful punch when it needs to, a la the bald-faced hornet defending its nest. (By the way, bald-faced hornet is a misnomer. They are actually a type of wasp.)
And when you look at a bee’s stinger compared with a needle under a microscope, you can easily see the stinger is many times sharper, a weapon perfected through millions of years of evolution.
You might even argue these flying insects are more evolved than us because they’ve had more time to master their tiny part of the universe.
Maybe that’s going a little too far.
But you get the point: Everything from bees, bears and boars to hornets, horses and humans have earned their place in this world.
Accept that. Respect that. Be on the lookout and give them their space, or get ready to say “Ouch!”
— Times Leader