Yellowjacket on lilac leaves

I first posted this picture in May, 2004…back when I’d first discovered my camera’s Macro setting, and back when I still liked yellow-jackets. After yesterday, though, I’m starting to re-think that last part.

Yep, yesterday I had a run-in with a yellow-jacket…and let me tell you, one of the most painful and inconvenient places you can be stung by one is on the bottom of your foot. I was walking to campus when it happened; I stepped down and felt what I initially thought was a rock in my sandals, only it stung worse than any rock I’ve ever stepped on. Luckily, I killed Mr. Yellow-Jacket when I stepped on him, because unlike honey bees, yellow jackets are wasps which can (and do) sting repeatedly.

Yellow-jackets also (I read) emit a distress pheromone when they sting, and this scent alerts the rest of the wasp colony to come and attack whatever seems to be causing the trouble. So in retrospect, I’m lucky that I got stung-by-stepping-on only one of the buggers since late August is when they are most active.

The irony of it all is that I don’t typically dislike bees and wasps. Back in high school and college when I volunteered for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, I worked every year at the ODNR’s prairie exhibit at the Ohio State Fair, where a rectangular plot of soil had been planted with a variety of native tall-grass prairie wildflowers. Whenever visitors approached and saw all the bees that these flowers attracted, they’d shy away…but we’d hasten to point out that with so many flowers to tend to, the bees were too busy to bother with humans.

In all those years I stood surrounded by flowers and bees, I was never stung, and I never saw a visitor get stung, either: the age-old philosophy of “they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them” seemed to work. But after 35 years of sting-free living, within the past year I’ve been stung for no good reason twice: once while sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Galveston, Texas last November, and yesterday while minding my own business here in Keene.

Perhaps the yellow-jackets have it out for me. Could it be they don’t appreciate my paparazzi ways?