Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Wasp goin' on?

As I was sorting through some of the memorabilia from years gone by the night before last, I heard a buzzing noise. My first thought was that it was some kind of fly larvae living in one of the boxes I had brought down from the loft, which was now resurrected by the warmth of my bedroom.

This would be a plausible conclusion, were my house in any way warm, but most of the time I need to take clothes off when I leave the house.

When I went to bed I heard the buzzing again and traced the sound to my lampshade. I bought the lampshade at a night market in Luang Prabang, Laos. It was made by winding coloured string round a balloon covered in glue (Gloy gum, by the looks of it - ah, I remember peeling this off the desks at school). Once the glue is dry the balloon is popped and removed and what remains is a balloon shaped net of string.

At the night market the shades lit up the stalls with bright bubbles of colour. In Bishop's Stortford they are somehow less spectacular and more transparent than I had hoped. I can see the bulb clearly and when I peered in the direction of the buzzing sound I could also see a wasp. I know! A wasp! At the end of October - what is that about?

So I know I said that I used to have a problem with wasps but now was completely calm about their presence, but when I made that statement I was not faced with the prospect of spending the night with one. Because although it appeared to have difficulty finding the top of the shade, I just knew that as soon as the light was out it would make a beeline (or should that be a wasp-line) for my ears and eat my brain. And I could really do without inhaling it and waking up with anaphylactic shock (even if it did save me money on lip plumpers).

So I set off downstairs to fetch a very large glass and a sturdy takeaway leaflet to place over the top. At first I thought the plan would be to open the window, shake the wasp in to the glass, cover with the leaflet and empty out in to the street. This proved to be logistically tricky and served to infuriate the wasp somewhat, which had been stoked back to full speed by the heat of the bulb. Not only that, but I couldn't open the window for love nor money. It simply wouldn't shift - the decorator had painted it shut.

To avoid giving myself a hernia, I decided to take down the lampshade, cover the top of the shade with the leaflet and empty the wasp out of the back door (which thankfully hadn't been painted shut).

But the wasp did not seem to want to leave his new little string home, so I hung the lampshade outside on the back door handle. I felt a little bit guilty leaving him out in the cold, consigning him to a slow death, but the only alternative would have been to stamp on my lampshade and I'm sorry, but I have better things to do with my time than picking sticky wasp pieces from a net of glued string.

Yesterday morning I stuck my head around the door to fetch the lampshade, expecting to find a dead wasp lying at the bottom. But no - he was still alive and now on the outside of the lampshade, completing his pre-flight checks so that he could join his friends.

So I am guessing that the wasp was living in my loft and came down when the hatch was open. I am also guessing that he does not live on his own. There are more of them nestled in amongst the boxes and the insulation, aren't there. Thousands, perhaps.

Oh good. So... when do they go in to hibernation, exactly? Not that I am afraid, or anything...


  1. Maybe it is simply a wandering wasp who had been tempted out by the warm weather and then was attracted by your lampshade (a friend of our used to have one like the one you describe). Nicely told tale.

  2. Perhaps the wasp simply strayed and will find its way again...I once had a nest of wasps inside a car door. They eventually found better digs.

  3. i guess you just toss the lampshade up and call it a day.