Rumor has it that the last remaining pterodactyls live and thrive in the remote parts of this good country. Whole websites are dedicated to finding them. This I knew before coming. Sadly, I have not had any run-ins with the terrifying creatures.
What I did not know was that we also apparently have some of the world largest wasps in Papua New Guinea.
I came home from school the other day, and Amanda was humming to herself and whipping up some sour cream in the kitchen. “I trapped a wasp in the window,” she mentioned casually as I walked in, “So make sure you don’t open it.”
Naturally, I went straight to the window to check it out. And it was the last time that week I walked near the window without at least two layers of protective clothing. This thing was massive. Massive. I immediately started having flashbacks to the time when prehistoric insects could pick up cattle and carry them off to the nearest swamp. (Which itself is remarkable, since I clearly never lived in prehistoric times, and I don’t think cattle did either…)
Amanda, of course, was totally unfazed. Apparently, she traps about three of these things a month in her classroom windows (between the louvered glass and the mesh screen). “I’ve never been stung,” she informed me, “but the kids are terrified of them – they sting like crazy, and the pain lasts forever…”
I’m with the kids on this one – terror is the only appropriate emotion when confronted with such creatures.
So it was three days later, as we sat in the living room watching a movie, when… BZZZZZZZZ! “We have a NEST!” Amanda shouted, and by the time she finished her sentence I was already in another three layers of clothes.
The thing was flying in circles around a light in the dining room – it landed every now and then, but never long enough for me to whack it with a nearby shoe. After about ten minutes of touch-and-go, I finally decided to take out the tennis racquet.
My first two swings were complete whiffs. Of course, this only infuriated the flying thing, but it landed just long enough for me to throw a shoe in its direction from several feet away. A hit!
Just to be sure, I whacked it four more times, and only on the last whack did I realize something was wrong. This was no wasp.
It was a grasshopper.