By Sam Burnham
Having recently survived encounters with local wildlife, I feel compelled to share a few important points (no pun intended) to introduce those who may be uninformed to the variety of flying stingy type insects that are known to inhabit Georgia and the surrounding region.
First I give you the dirt dauber. These insects build pipe organ type structures where they feed spiders to their larvae and build more structures for more larvae and spiders and on and on. A serious insect scientist could share with you the myriad reasons that these bugs are beneficial. We always liked them because they looked like wasps but won't sting you. The only real detriment they pose is their occasional poor choice of structure locations. Like on the brickwork above my front door. And of course the nasty looking grub-like larvae that fall out when you remove the structures.
Other then that, they're harmless.
The hornet. Also known as the harnet (rhymes with garnet). Much maligned as vicious and dangerous, my experience with these bugs is that they are really hermits and so long as you don't go messing with them, they'll stay in their remote fortresses and do whatever it is that they do in their little paper cone.
The cone thing is the problem. Many a Jim Bob sees the mighty funnel and wishes to make it his own, which breaks the unwritten law of the hornet, "Leave them alone". Once you break this law, you are indeed on your own and the hornets will do with you what they wish. So, just let them bee...er...be.
The wasp. Also known as the warst. Ok, these are a bit meaner than the dirt dauber and maybe not quite as mean as the hornet but they tend to come a bit closer to civilization than their paper cone cousins. A stray baseball or maybe a misguided stream from a Super Soaker water gun might dislodge a few that come to seek you out. But, for the most part, they are the grouchy old men of the group. They don't want goof balls playing around their porch but they aren't very motivated to chase interlopers very far. Just run a bit and you will be ok.
The honey bee. My personal favorite of this bunch. They make honey and besides being tasty on biscuits or cornbread or in your morning coffee, raw honey is a natural remedy for seasonal allergies.
Honeybees pollinate everything. and they are incredibly busy. they don't have time to be bothered by you and you really have to freak one out to get stung. Let them work because I don't want to sneeze and you don't want to get stung.
Then there is this poor twisted soul. The casual glance says honey bee. The first close up might communicate wasp or hornet. This however is wrath incarnate. This is the yellow jacket. Georgia Tech chose this little booger to be it's mascot because both these animals and the GT football team tend to be bad this time of year. (thank you, I'll be here all week).
The yellow jacket lives where it wants to. Because forget you, that's why. If you venture anywhere near their abode, even for something so benign as to offer them chocolate cake or invite them to a dinner party, they will spring from their little portal of punishment by the millions and unleash havoc on everything in a 1 square mile radius.
Oh you can escape. But you'll go inside, enjoy dinner, read to your children, get a good night sleep, wake, shower, eat breakfast, shave, brush your teeth, kiss your spouse good bye and once you go outside, there they are. "Remember us? We've been waiting for you all night." and BAM! the violence continues.
Legend has it that if you kill one, its dead body emits a pheromone that tells its friends, "hey that dude in the red shirt just killed me" and then 5 or 10 will appear seeking a reckoning for what you have done. And there's more of them than there are of you. So run. Faster.
So there's a few tips for surviving encounters with flying insect in Georgia. Keep an eye out and you'll be fine.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire