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It is the day after and all is calm. To look at the porch, you would not think anything unusual happened here. What you cannot see, however, is hidden on the porch in the corners and next to the screen. And dying, after a precision chemical counter-attack that has now removed the imminent threat.
Last night was a different story. We were up at the cabin overnight to meet the next morning with some contractors. To pass the time, Frances was working on a small table she had set up on the porch, starting a new basket weaving project.
The afternoon had been pleasantly cool for August in Georgia and the evening was even cooler. We had opened up the cabin and turned off the air conditioning, anticipating sleeping with a fresh breeze coming in the windows.
I was on the sofa in the living room just a few feet from Frances working at her table on the the porch. Only two screen windows separated us.
"Did I hear that?" she asked.
I listened. In the distance toward the lake I could hear a light buzzing like the soundtrack of a World War II era movie about an enemy air attack.
"It sounds like a motor-cross race." She added. "Who would be doing that at this hour?"
Odd. We were in a very dark and quiet place. There were almost no lights on the lake except ours on a Sunday in late August. And, we were so far from the road we almost never heard road noise.
The buzzing got louder and louder. And, then it happened.
All at once, dozens of hornets started slamming into the screens on the porch. And, then more and more hit the screens until there seemed to be hornets everywhere clinging to the outside of the screens. +
Frances left her basket weaving and came in the cabin. I closed the door behind her. This is an old cabin with a porch floor of pine boards riddled with spaces between boards that are large enough to accommodate a determined insect.
Before I could turn off the porch lights, the beasts began appearing on screens of the living room widow that faced the porch. These were not your garden variety bee or wasp. These were European hornets, three inches in length capable stinging multiple times.
They were crawling around in groups of two and three, probing and looking for ways to get in. I walked back to the door with its panel windows. A half dozen hornets were trying frantically to get in.
I locked the door.
I guess she did not think they could work a door knob. I was not taking chances.
Then I walked the few feet to the only bedroom on the ground floor. It also faced the porch. More hornets on screens and the side window without screens. Fortunately closed but also covered with hornets hungry for the light.
We decided to close up the house and turn on the air. I do not think either of us expect the hornets to breach the screens and get in but there was something comforting about closing all the windows. And, it did serve to cover over the incessant buzzing that had surrounded our home.
I returned to the couch next to the porch window and tried to concentrate on the two heron pictures over our fireplace. They were taken just a couple of hundred yards from the end of our dock. Tonight they were a calming influence in the midst of a bizarre and unprovoked inter-species attack.
I am happy to report that no vertebrates were injured in this attack. After awhile we were able to put the creepy crawlies to the back of our mind and get on with our evening.
The next morning, there were still dozens of hornets on our porch. We opened the door between the porch and the deck to let them out. Those who did not leave of their own free will over the next couple of hours became the body count from our counterattack.
Some of the 29 hornets who failed to leave the porch are shown below.
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+ My apologies to any bees feeling slandered by the title.
Travel, business and history with original photos.
Clinton Richardson - author, photographer, business advisor and traveler.
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