I’m Paranoid Because They’re Really Out To Get Me.

wasps1The wasps know me. This may sound like a crazy thing to say but I have proof. First, though, I should explain that I have a serious problem with wasps. Granted I don’t know anyone who likes wasps, and Craig Ferguson summed it up perfectly when he called them “the skinheads of the insect world”. For me, though, it gets weirdly personal because I have a strange affinity with spiders. Most people don’t like spiders any more than they like wasps, but for most it’s just a feeling of disgust when they see a spider. According to The Book Of The Spider by Paul Hillyard approximately 5% of people have arachnophobia, which can be a seriously debilitating condition. People with genuine arachnophobia think about spiders when there are no spiders around. They go to extreme lengths to protect themselves from nonexistent spiders. Just talking about spiders makes people with arachnophobia jumpy. And I’m probably responsible for giving some people arachnophobia because once in a theater during the film Arachnophobia a friend and I threw handfuls of rubber spiders into the audience, but that’s another story.

Hillyard thinks that there’s a spectrum—that at one end there are 5% or so who have arachnophobia and at the other end there are probably 5% or so who have the exact opposite. I’m pretty sure I’m in that 5% and while it seems like the term should be arachnophilia that sounds like something completely different. It sounds like I want to have sex with spiders. Even if that were physically possible I wouldn’t . Yes, Charlotte’s Web will always be one of my favorite books and, as I’ve said before, I wish Wilbur had been turned into bacon and sausage and Charlotte had been the one to live to a ripe old age, but I only ever wanted Charlotte as a friend.

If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with wasps it’s this: wasps are the deadly enemy of spiders. Spiders mostly eat insects but wasps are one of the few insects that turn that around and eat spiders.

They’re also the skinheads of the insect world and even if I didn’t have such a deep love of spiders that alone would be justification for killing every wasp I see. And I don’t just kill wasps. I get brutal. I’ve emptied a whole can of insecticide on a single wasp. In my defense it just kept coming and even when it tried to get away I knew it might come back so I kept spraying and when that was done I stomped on it. Then I set it on fire.

That might have been a little extreme, but something happened to me that’s made me think the feeling is mutual on the wasps’ part. I was standing in line at the grocery store and I felt something tickle my neck. I thought it was just an ordinary itch so I reached up and scratched. That’s when my fingers brushed a carapace. Then I heard a buzz in my ear. I turned and saw a wasp flying away.

I still don’t know exactly when the sting happened but by the time I got to the car there was a burning sensation in my neck. By the time I got home I could feel it swelling. By the time the groceries were put away I had a pustule the size of a bowling ball sticking out of my neck.

In the mirror it was only a little bump the size of my fingernail but I’m convinced the mirror was conspiring with the wasps.

I applied a series of cold compresses and after an excruciating quarter of an hour the swelling and pain disappeared, but even though that was months ago every little itch makes me jumpy. And for a while my keyboard was making a buzzing sound that drove me crazy. I’m terrified of wasps even when there are no wasps around.

The scientific name for wasps is Hymenoptera so while it seems like the term should be hymenophobia that sounds like something completely different.

wasps2

18 Comments

  1. halfa1000miles

    Both are creepy a.f. but I have never had a spider attack me. Wasps HAVE divebombed me. I was in a horse trailer I hadn’t been in for awhile and they started just dropping straight out of the ceiling somewhere. No flying, just dropping and stinging the crap out of me. I ran out of there and then thought, damn, I just tied a horse up in there. I have to go let him out, so I took two more stings for the team. And now I want every one of those skinheads to die very painfully. That trailer needed a hymenectomy.

    Reply
    1. Margot

      Sorry for butting in, CW, but Linda: You are heroic a.f.. I probably would have found someone else to go in and save the horses.

      Reply
      1. halfa1000miles

        Yep, I am truly a hero. Always have been. Ha. I had to think about it hard. I figured my horse would get totally stung. I was the only one around. I would have gladly sent someone else.

        Reply
    2. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That’s why wasps are the skinheads of the insect world. As Craig Ferguson said, “A bee will only sting you if you annoy it…wasps sting even if you DON’T annoy them.” I’m pretty sure the wasps enjoy it. They like to sting people. If you bump into a beehive the bees will sting you but if you run away they’ll go back to the hive.
      Wasps and hornets will keep coming after you.
      By the way feel free to say “as fuck” here if you’re so inclined. We’re all adults and swearing doesn’t annoy me.

      Reply
      1. halfa1000miles

        I use the tone of the person’s blog that I am visiting. Because I am always a nice person 🙂

        Reply
  2. Margot

    I love this, Christopher! I actually laughed out loud. And that’s laughed out loud, not lol’d. I wouldn’t be caught dead doing that. It was the part about the cold compresses and the excruciating quarter of an hour that did me in.

    I totally believe you about your feelings for Charlotte being completely platonic. But I do find the word hymenoptera a little sexual. What’s up with that, you stupid wasps and you weirdo wasp lovers and namers? There’s something fishy going on and I don’t like it one bit.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Fun fact: Alfred Kinsey–you know, the guy who did those massive reports on human sexuality before going on to be played by Liam Neeson in a biopic–started out in biology studying wasps. He took the job of teaching a course on human sexuality because no one else wanted to and it became his major field of study.
      Or so he says. I think there’s something very revealing about his early interest in hymenoptera.

      Reply
      1. Margot

        I think you’re on to something, Christopher, and we all know you’re smart as fuck.

        There. I did it. I said the F word on CW’s blog. I agree with Linda that the tone of your blog is not very sweary, and yes, that rhyme was on purpose. The tone of this blog is what I would call erudite and artsy. But I went ahead and punctured its hymen. Is everyone OK?

        Reply
  3. Chuck Baudelaire

    May I say that a hymenoptera sounds a piece of Victorian-era medical equipment used to determine a young lady’s virginity.

    May I also say that Precocious Daughter joins you in your hatred/terror of wasps. In fact, I had to get over my own hatred/terror of them in order to protect her from the pointy-assed menace. Or at least learn to conceal it better. I feel I deserve some sort of medal.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Now that you mention it I’m surprised the Victorians didn’t call bicycles or velocipedes “hymenoptera” or some variant of it because of a belief that some ladies lost their virginity while pedaling.
      And you do deserve a medal, a huge one, for getting between wasps and your daughter. Something engraved with a heart and a big can of bug spray.

      Reply
  4. Sarah

    Your posts always make me laugh AND learn something! They’re so great. I would like to know the ‘other story’ about when you threw spiders at the audience watching that movie. Did people freak out? That’s hilarious! Also, I have to admit right here in your comment box than I’ve never seen Charlotte’s Web. I seriously haven’t. But, I do have an eleven month old daughter, so I suspect my time is coming. Wasps are indeed freaky creatures, and ‘skinheads of the insect world’ definitely cracked me up. I’ll never see them in any other way for the rest of my life. That sting sounds so painful! It’s no wonder that you’re now hearing wasps in your keyboard! It would be karma, you realize, if they make a movie about a house infested with wasps and someone throws plastic wasps at you? But, I doubt you’d go see the movie. So, did you get warm, fuzzy feelings while watching Arachnophobia? This comment is all over the place. I’m sleep deprived today as the little one is teething and therefore not sleeping much. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      People did freak out during the movie, although it wasn’t as dramatic as it might sound. They quickly figured out where the “spiders” were coming from and, well, even then I had a bit of a reputation. I’d be reminded of that years later when I put a rubber cockroach in a co-worker’s paperclip jar. First she screamed then she screamed, “CHRIS!”
      And it’s okay if you’ve never seen the film version of Charlotte’s Web but when your daughter’s old enough you two should definitely read the book together. It’s a fun story and might make you feel differently about spiders. And pork products, which could be a problem if you’re still living in Germany.

      Reply
  5. Gina W.

    I had a moment where I thought about pretending to be someone else and troll you with comments like, “Wasps are the best! Only losers like spiders”. But I figured no one would buy it. Who the hell likes wasps? I got stung by a wasp as a kid and to this day I can remember how painful it was. Nothing at all like a bee sting, which is like a gentle kiss in comparison.

    Please write a post about the fake spider flinging incident. I must know what happened.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There are scientists who study wasps so I guess there are some sick, twisted individuals who actually like them, although Stephen Jay Gould–not a guy who was usually inclined to anthropomorphize–said certain wasps showed just how cruel nature can be. Although he wasn’t talking about wasp stings. He was talking about wasps that lay their eggs in caterpillars. The young then hatch and eat the caterpillar from the inside but leave the brain for last, keeping it alive and in pain as long as possible.
      Just typing that makes me think how wasps really are horrendous monsters.

      Reply
  6. Spoken Like A True Nut

    My husband took his best friend to see 8 Legged Freaks twice in theaters to “help her get over her fear of spiders”. And he has the scars to prove it.

    Wasps are just dicks by nature. The first time I got stung was when a random wasp landed on my arm, kinda hung out for a while, then out of nowhere just stung me and left. I’d sat perfectly still the whole time and did absolutely nothing to provoke it, but it jabbed me anyway. Dick. Most of them aren’t even any good at pollinating. They’re just thugs that don’t contribute anything to society except for pain and injustice.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Your husband is very brave. Exposure therapy should only be undertaken by professionals. But I hope 8 Legged Freaks was at least worth the admission price. I haven’t seen it–it’s hard for me to get over that suspension of disbelief thing with most giant creatures.
      I’m pretty sure wasps just enjoy stinging. I’ve watched paper wasps bite off little pieces of wood off decks and sticks and it looks like they’re stinging the wood at the same time, getting it from both ends.
      Yeah, that sounded fine in my head, but now that I type it out seems really inappropriate.

      Reply
  7. mydangblog
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That is so fantastic I’m gonna post it again in this comment so it’ll be visible to all and sundry.

      Reply

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