Requiring a bit of a respite from various desk-bound tasks this afternoon, I wandered out to our "weedy" little patch by the office. I snatched the Panasonic from the car's trunk first, just in case. It wasn't long before I heard the rapid guttural chirps of multiple Japanese burrowing crickets, Velarifictorus micado, out back of the building. Aha! thought I - I shall finally photo-document this ever-increasing invader. I first started hearing these Asian crickets about three years ago, and now hear them everywhere. In fact, one sings nightly from a crevice under my back porch steps. Getting a photo of one is a bit like playing whac-a-mole. I prod the partially concealed little singer to coax him from his burrow. He briefly pops up, I ready the camera, the cricket goes subterranean, I prod with twig again, Up, Down, me never fast enough with the camera's trigger.
Tiring of the cricket's game, I wandered into the goldenrods seeking easier fare.
Paper wasps pack a nasty punch. We can refer to the Schmidt Sting Pain Index to see just how painful the sting of this very common wasp is. If you've not heard of this rather bizarre excercise in scientific masochism, an entomologist named Justin Schmidt set out, a few decades ago, to quantify and compare the stings of various insects in the Hymenoptera. He did this by letting stinging insects sting him, of course. His magnum opus, first published in 1984, is the aforementioned Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Its scale goes from 1 to 4+, with a 1 being a very mild, only slightly painful sting. Our paper wasp weighs in at a 3, and its sting is described by Schmidt as follows:
"Caustic and burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut".
Ouch. And what a hand's-on scientist is Mr. Schmidt.
And then my 20 minutes of documenting life in the goldenrod patch was up, and it was time to return to work.