Wasps and Sting Prevention

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“Wasps and their ways” (1900) is a detailed observation by biologist and educator Margaret Morley (1858 – 1923). She also wrote nature and fiction books for children.   It has many fascinating insights into wasp biology and life a century ago “In some parts of our own country, farmers’ wives are reported to have taken advantage of the wasp’s well-known fondness for flies by hanging a wasp’s-nest in the house.  Doubtless such a fly-trap, with a little care and patience, would work admirably, as wasps readily make friends of people whom they are in the habit of seeing close to their nests, and who do not molest them.  However, the present writer does not seriously recommend the practice as a substitute for window-screens and fly-poison.” (p. 63).

The “Wasp in the wig” by Lewis Carroll is thought to be a missing chapter from “Through the Looking Glass”.  Agatha Christie penned a book of short stories called “Wasp’s Nest and other stories”.  In about 422 BC the Greek comedy writer Aristophanes wrote “Wasps”.  This was the basis for a very early composition: “The Wasps” by Ralph Vaughan Williams and a recent CD was the Radio 3 ‘Critics Disc of the Year’ in 2006.  

The wasp is not mentioned in the Bible but the Hornet (e.g. Exodus ch. 23 v. 28) is used by God several times to “to help clear a way for the chosen people” (Morley, 1900, p. 80). 

Wasps have often featured in poetry.  This is the first internet copy of Plain Murder written by A.G. Prys-Jones (1888 – 1987) some time before 1959.  It seems to refer to the squashing of a wasp before it can sting the author.  It was published in “Yet More Comic and Curious Verse” selected by J. H. Cohen (1959).

I saw a wasp upon a wall
And did not like his face at all:
And so the creature had no time
To wonder whether he liked mine.

This limerick is written by me!

Said a gentle young girl named Janice
“Do you like on my broach where the wing is?”.
Her friend took the clasp,
Cried “Ouch, it’s a wasp!”
“Can’t  you see? There - the sting is?”

Three interesting early poems can easily be found on the internet: “Upon a Wasp Chilled with Cold” and “Upon a Spider Catching a Fly” by valued American Colonial writer Edward Taylor (1642 – 1729); and by John Kendall (written prior to 1932, possibly first published in “Punch”): “The Wasp”

"Does anything eat Wasps?" has only one short paragraph dealing with the question in the title. This became a best seller stocking filler at Christmas recently. The answer is yes.