The Edge of the Wood

by John Messeder, Nemophilist & Ecological Storyteller

Storm troopers on gossamer wings

They are reportedly as aggressive as they appear.Something caught my eye, something that didn’t quite belong among the long green needles. I don’t know why I looked up for it, except that I habitually wander around with my eyes pretty wide open, the better to see stumps and other things I might run into while walking through the woods or paddling close along the shore.

Then I found it, a volleyball-size wasp nest hanging from a Pitch Pine, about 10-12 feet up from the ground. And about six feet from the trail, where joggers, bicyclists and other woods wanderers regularly pass by, probably without noticing the armory above their heads.

The little warriors could be winged mini-storm troopers from the next episode of “Star Wars.” Or characters from RoboBee Mini-Assault Team. The are clad in shiny black with white lateral stripes on their posterior and white-helmeted heads. Think Robocop meets miniaturization.

I have been told they are very aggressive, and they look the part. On the other hand, I learned awhile ago that most critters, wasps includes, won’t bother me if I don’t bother them. Poke them with a stick and it better be v-e-r-r-y long. They’re smarter than they might be thought, and don’t require long to figure out in which direction to find the other end of the pole that just drove through their home.


  1. Loved the way you put this all together. I sometimes get amazed when I see people panicking at the site of a wasp nest or a bee buzzing around a flower. they don’t believe me when I tell them that the wasp/bee won’t bother them if they don’t bother the insect.

    • John

      September 12, 2012 at 12:29

      That part about mutual respect has always been my creed. So far, I’ve been bitten by no dogs or bears, and stung by very few bees or wasps.

    • Same for me. One time at the Madison, WI farmers market a bee kept buzzing around my lips. Of course, I kept my mouth shut (miracle of miracles!). Eventually he flew away. Cause: I’d been sampling the vendors’ wares.

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