Spring is in the air here in Seattle, even as the rest of the country is evidently getting hit with snow… maybe? I haven’t had to fly or drive anywhere beyond the greater Puget Sound area in the last several weeks, so I’ve gotta admit I haven’t really been paying attention to the national weather forecasts as of late. Regardless, we’ve been having some pretty good, and possibly unseasonable weather. Cherry trees have started to bloom, along with the usual “first flowers”, and I even spotted a wasp a week or two ago, which inspired this comic.
Even in Montana we’d get the occasional February wasp– some intrepid little soul who decided that the time was right to start looking for a nest site, only to get caught in the cold once the warm spell ended. Presumably they’re not “in a hurry” per se– I’m sure they’re just biologically triggered to emerge from hibernation once their winter shelter reaches a certain temperature, so I envision the early emergers are the ones who overwintered in a sun-exposed log, or something more apt to heat up in the early days of spring. Or maybe they do impatiently storm out of some sort of Parliament of the Animals, and they’re just too proud to retreat back to a known warm spot.
I know that wasps (or at least the ol’ black & yellow Vespula vulgaris wasps) aren’t the most loved insects out there, but they’ve kind of grown on me over the years. I think of them as the rough and tumble pirates of the flying social insects, compared to the well-organized and prim British Navy disposition of honeybee colonies. That’s anthropomorphizing both bees and wasps substantially, but it kind of paints a picture. Since my fieldwork days, I’ve learned that wasps aren’t as intrinsically ill-tempered as I had thought when I was a kid; they’re just looking for an angle. Bees have business, but wasps are usually looking for opportunities. It’s just that this curious nature puts them a little more at odds with us as we go about our days. Watch out for those giant black and white wasps, though: the Bald-faced Hornet. They do seem a little more ornery than their smaller yellow cousins, so I tend to give them a bit of a wider berth.