I’ve posted quite a lot about the number of strange (to us) creatures we’ve seen since we’ve been living in the Mayenne and it’s been a fantastic experience observing the French flora and fauna but – as with most pleasures – there’s a downside…
According to one of our future neighbours, the west of France has a major wasp problem.
Although I can’t find anything to confirm this on the interwebs, anecdotal evidence here seems to confirm it, with another of our future neighbours regularly complaining about the effect they have on his bees. He has several hives and his honey production is suffering.
But it’s not only the wasps, it’s the hornets – les frelons. This is a new word in my French vocabulary and one I wish I didn’t know.
Whilst wasps don’t really bother me – live and let live, plus they kill garden pests – hornets are a different matter.
They seem bolder and more inquisitive than wasps and they also pack a very painful sting and although I’m quite a peaceful soul as regards pests (flies, mosquitoes and rats are fair game but I can tolerate most other creatures around me) hornets are rapidly becoming a nuisance and are now dealt with accordingly.
However, whilst a simple whack with a fly swat can at least stun a wasp long enough for you to really lamp the bugger with a handy shoe or other weighty object, should the need arise, it takes more than a swipe with the swat to bring down a hornet.
Jesus Christ, they’re tough bastards!
We recently bought a spray which seemed to be the most lethal on the market and specifically for guepes (wasps) and frelons.
Wasps don’t stand a fucking chance! It kills them immediately – and I’ve even used it on a nest which is now wasp Chernobyl. Hornets are a different matter though.
I trapped a hornet in between a window and a shutter at about 11 o’clock last night, gave the gap a good spray very quickly and left the pesticide to do its stuff.
When I opened the shutter to get the dead hornet out, sure enough, there it was on the floor…but it wasn’t dead…
It lay there, visibly twitching – untill I twatted the bugger with one of my steel toecapped work boots. It was one dead motherfucker then.
Although I can’t find anything recent about a plague of hornets in France, I did find this from 2007:
The French honey industry is under threat from hordes of bee-massacring oriental hornets, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The forests of Aquitaine, in south-west France, now play host to swarms of the the Asian Hornet, Vespa velutina, which is believed to have arrived there “from the Far East in a consignment of Chinese pottery in late 2004″.
Entomogist Jean Haxaire, who first eyeballed the invaders, said: “Their spread across French territory has been like lightning.”
Haxaire said he’s now counted 85 “football-shaped” nests across the 40 miles which separate the towns of Marmande and Podensac “in the Lot et Garonne department where the hornets were first spotted”.
The Asian Hornet can cause some serious damage to a human, “inflicting a bite which has been compared to a hot nail entering the body”. But that’s not the principal threat they pose. They can decimate a nest of 30,000 bees “in a couple of hours” in search of larvae on which to feed their young. This, unsurprisingly, gives local beekeepers serious cause for alarm.
Co-incidentally, another bunch of fucking pests, the EDP, seem to have lost a Wasp they’d rather have liked to have kept. Paul Sackey now plays for Toulon in France. This may well be old news, but it’s new to me. Sackey is one – perhaps the only one – of the party’s celebrity endorsers. I wonder how the party feels about him playing in France? Actually, scrap that – I really don’t give a flying fuck.