Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Bug-Eating Bug


Bald Faced Hornet

My Dad, who is a walking nature encyclopedia, taught me not to fear this "bee", when I was a small child. I have passed this knowledge on to my children and anybody else who will listen.

A few days ago, I was outside talking to a friend when a bug buzzed by his ear. He waved the bug away with his hand, then laughed. "I suppose I should have checked to see if that was a bee before I did that." The offending bug returned and my friend jumped back in alarm. "It is a BEE!" I told him not to panic and quickly introduced him to the virtues of the Bald Faced Hornet.

I have often sat outside, playing decoy for this bug-hunting "bee". The BFH will sit patiently on your arm and attack any bug that comes near you. I have learned to recognize the gnip sound that the BFH makes when it nails its prey. I have also been mildly grossed out when a BFH returns to my arm with a large bug and gnips it up in small bites.

Out of curiosity, Z and I decided to do a little research to see how accurate Grandpa's facts were.
The first thing we found out was that the BFH isn't a hornet; it's a member of the Yellow Jacket family. They're common throughout N. America. The BFH lives on a diet of insects and plant nectar. They also build nests similar to the Paper Wasp. My Dad and I mistakenly thought that the BFH didn't sting, as they have pincher jaws rather than a stinger. Wrongo! The BFH has venom, just like bees and yellow jackets. They actually can sting with their little pincher jaws. The difference is that the BFH is actually a peaceable little guy. They only "bite" when their nest is threatened. No problem! I don't know about you, but I tend to stay as far away as possible from any hanging gray "paper" nest, with hundreds of "bees" buzzing out of it.

The next time you see one of these amazing insects, take the time to sit quietly and watch him clear out the flies and mosquitoes for you.

23 Comments:

At 6/28/2005 6:28 PM, Blogger Laura said...

I wouldn't mind having one around to eat other bugs, but I'll pass on having it sit on my arm.

 
At 6/28/2005 6:50 PM, Blogger Bridget Jones said...

oooh I'm with Laura. Glad that they're around but not near me OK?

Bridg the fraidy cat

 
At 6/28/2005 7:21 PM, Blogger --R said...

Hey, that was really cool! Thanks for posting -- that has to be the neatest thing I learned today.

 
At 6/28/2005 10:01 PM, Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

I've always liked bees. Been stung, it's not that bad. Poor bees though. People freak out and ask me to kill them for them then get mad at me when I say no. Bees serve a purpose. Even when in the house I try to catch it in something then stick it outside.

 
At 6/28/2005 10:17 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

Same here, ZS.
My husband had some rather freaky experiences with bees and used to be petrified of them. I didn't want him transferring his fears to our kids, so I really had to work with him on this issue.

 
At 6/28/2005 11:27 PM, Blogger SME said...

Oh, sure, tell me it doesn't sting...

 
At 6/29/2005 12:19 AM, Anonymous Sagepaper said...

That's neat to know! Is there any way to attract them to your yard, or must you await their blessing? I wouldn't want to do anything too attractive to other bugs, though. I like critters who eat bugs!

 
At 6/29/2005 5:55 AM, Blogger Vest said...

tshsmom.p-15 describes my first full scale encounter with European honey bees gone beserk. A placid afternoon goes horribly wrong, the aftermath creates division within the community.

 
At 6/29/2005 6:34 AM, Blogger Laura said...

I've been stung and I agree it's not that bad. John's allergic though, so he tends to freak out. A trip to the emergency room vs. one dead bee... I'll take the dead bee please.

 
At 6/29/2005 1:37 PM, Blogger tshsmom said...

SME-Sure, the ONE time you believe Grandpa and me. . .

Sage-They always seem to be in campgrounds, so maybe people attract them. The articles Z and I read only told how to get RID of them.

Laura-My Dad's allergic too and he still does dumb stuff like sucking yellow jackets up his dustbuster.

 
At 6/29/2005 7:27 PM, Blogger .: raven :. said...

ACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

there is no way in a million years i could let a bee like that land on my arm ... or any insect for that matter .. i'm deathly afraid of insects ....

however, it is very cool that you can do that.

thanks for stopping by my place and your words of encouragement. and yes, i have a chocolate lab! she will be 8 in October ... i love her so much ... she's my best friend. i have pics of her on my page .. under the link "my best friend" :)

i will be reading more of your page to learn more about you.

 
At 6/29/2005 9:20 PM, Blogger Sadie Lou said...

My husband is terrified of bees and wasps. He'll kill any sized spider but the bees in the house are my responsibility. I don't kill them, I just shoo them out the nearest window. I like bees--unless they are in my car. *yikes!*

 
At 6/30/2005 12:32 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

This is so cool! Thank you for this information. I don't know if I'll have the nerve to sit and stare at a bee to determine if it is this type - but I will try to commit the picture to my memory.

My husband is allergic to bees. The problem is - whenever a bee is around him he starts karate-chopping and kicking the air all around him. It's quite comical to watch although I suppose I shouldn't laugh...

 
At 6/30/2005 8:06 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Hm, I would think if they always seem to be at campgrounds and they eat pest bugs like flies, then I guess keeping a lot of garbage in a moderately wooded area might attract them? Don't think that's something anyone wants in their yard though...

Monicar - yes, John does that too. He freaks out like a little school girl. It's funny to see a 6' 4" 280lb man do that...

 
At 6/30/2005 9:41 AM, Blogger Vest said...

Laura. 280lbs in the ancient British imperial measure(USA),is equiv to I think about 125 kilo's.
This is larger than a proverbial Aussie brick dunny. Your hubby; constructionally speaking at least, must be considered to be a great guy,and the perfect friend to have in the hour of need.
B T W is the USA the only country not using the metric system?

 
At 6/30/2005 9:43 AM, Blogger Vest said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6/30/2005 9:54 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Yes, The United States has it's own completely illogical, nonsensical system of measurement. I prefer metric, it makes sense. It's all in base 10, but Nooooooo.

 
At 6/30/2005 11:51 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

Hey! The USA uses the 'standard' measurement system! Standard.

I'm glad my girls are learning metric (along with standard) - and as I have to teach them so am I. I just can't get used to it though.

 
At 6/30/2005 8:55 PM, Anonymous ann said...

i can deal with buzzing things, but i have to say that crawling, multi-legged insects really freak me out! the husband is even worse than i am.

 
At 6/30/2005 9:35 PM, Blogger Rhodent said...

Very cool! I have never seen one of these before!

 
At 7/01/2005 8:45 AM, Blogger zydeco fish said...

Hey that's good advice, but I am not sure I will put it to use.

 
At 7/01/2005 8:52 AM, Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

I'm afraid of bees because I've been stung so often that I don't think I would hang around to figure out what type of bee was swarming around me. :-P

Having said that, I still like the idea of it killing other bugs for me because I HATE mosquitoes (I get eaten alive). Also, I feel rather ashamed when I do my "bee dance" in front of my son and he gives me the raised eyebrow.

 
At 7/01/2005 8:22 PM, Blogger Vest said...

Was the USA Dollar the first decimal coinage, someone chase this one up. Ans req.

 

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