I found this beauty in the washing up bowl this afternoon, and scooped her out with the tin I happened to be holding in my hand. She sat on the rim, meticulously wiping herself dry in the sunshine.
She is a queen Vespula vulgaris (common wasp; yellowjacket to my American friends), and she was in the kitchen because she was on the hunt for somewhere to build a nest. There have been a lot of them about lately, flying in as soon as we open a door or window, and investigating the dark nooks and crannies inside our cottage. We are having to keep a close eye on the garden hutches, in case a nest appears inside one of them.
Three years ago, a queen wasp found her way into the ceiling above our porch, and her colony grew and grew until the plaster bulged and stained. We could hear them moving about in there.
“They’re sussurating,” shuddered Bunty. Bunty likes wasps from a distance. As great a distance as possible.
They were in danger of chewing their way through the ceiling and getting chased by the cats, who had not learned about wasps. Bunty feared a cat might get stung in the throat and suffocate. On top of this, we were in favour of an intact, hole-free house.
I happen to be almost as fond of wasps as I am of their close relations, the ants. I do not have it in me to go around killing them; but I appreciated that this was a territory dispute, and Bunty must do what he must do. He bought some wasp killer spray and donned his wasp-fighting armour. Here he is in his armour.
He stood several feet from the house and sprayed blindly in the direction of the nest, for a long time, then stepped smartly indoors, shutting the door behind him. The next day, we found three dead wasps. He tried again the following evening, and this time was successful in vanquishing them. We had dying wasps crawling out of the woodwork for a week. The cats were delighted. Luckily, the Wasp Ninja got to them all before the cats did.