Sussex’s latest Wine Connoisseur – Vespa Crabro

Posted: September 17, 2013 in Garden visitors, Wine
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Afternoon nap for young Mr Vespa after quaffing too much of Languedoc's finest Picpoul de Pinet.

Afternoon nap for young Mr Vespa after quaffing too much of Languedoc’s finest Picpoul de Pinet.

So summers finally over and sitting in the garden dining al fresco (not sure if Iike that term) now has to be consigned to memory for another 8 months or so.  We’ve had a bumper year of new and interesting visitors to the garden so here’s one that to be honest I’ll be happy if it never ventures back again.

From mid August this year and the first time in a few years we had those pesky wasps turning up the moment food was put on the table.  Annoying and some had to be disposed of by drowning like Clarence not in Malmsbury wine but Wychwood cider bottle dregs.  So there we were sitting outside enjoying a particularly nice glass of chilled Picpoul de Pinet when a low droning sound caught our ears.  At first I just thought this beastie was a big wasp but as it headed towards the wine I realised this was something far more impressive.  Now according to DEFRA and UK wildlife literature despite their reputation the European Hornet (Vespa Crabro) as oppose bee murdering Asian kamikaze Hornets have no interest in Humans or their food and drink and are actually general docile, only becoming aggressive if threatened.  YEAH RIGHT, we were taking no chances and scarpered to the safety of the kitchen to observe this 1.5″ awesome terror. My first thoughts were to “go on Sidney spray the beast” with an entire can of Raid but despite its fearsome appearance I couldn’t help but admire it.  Before we had time to discuss further it landed on our bottle of wine and yep you guessed it, took a few little sips, climbed inside and plop, fell into the nearly full bottle.  Deciding not to kill it and more concerned about saving the wine I managed to eventually extricate it  by pouring the content through a gauze funnel into a jug. Mr Vespa didn’t seem too impressed with this and was glugging the wine for all his worth as he sat in the bottom of the funnel. Transferring him with due care to an upturned jar was relatively easy as he was totally sloshed by this time but it didn’t stop him attacking the glass for a few minutes before finally dropping off to sleep off his exertions.  A couple of hours later I removed the glass and got as close as I dared to get some pics. What a beauty (just click on the image to get a closer look), once he sobered up he flew unsteadily off, I’ve seen him once more since probably searching for more wine but he’ll have to wait another year now. The worry is that after some research it transpires that Asian Hornets have made landfall in Southern France and are migrating North. Now these b***ards are altogether a different proposition.

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