The guests are gone…….

remnants of the beautiful yellow jacket hive

Remember the ‘unwelcome guests’ I wrote of in September? The yellow jackets that took up residence above the door of one of our buildings? We’ve been waiting to reclaim our building. I checked now and then, looking for signs of their absence. But there have been no signs, no dead bodies, and no deterioration of their beautifully sculpted paper home. One day a few weeks ago a sentry sat unmoving at the opening to the nest, a few days later I saw a fly go in. We decided they were gone and a few days ago Mike knocked down the nest, wrapped so tightly around several pieces of wood, it was not possible to remove gently. Only flies he said (I wasn’t in attendance, miserably inside with a sinus cold). Not a trace of the bustling colony that had lived there.

Parnassian Butterfly in June. Dying off,
they leave behind tiny eggs to over winter.

Remarkable. Entire populations of insects come to life, build complex infrastructures, have complex social organizations, and die off in extraordinarily short periods of time. There are those who have individual short life spans within a long living community, such as an ant in the decades old giant anthill at the bottom of our driveway (which survives annual slashes from the roadside brush cutter), or an individual bee in a honeybee hive. There are solitary insects, such as the beautiful Parnassian butterflies which grace our yard every June, their caterpillar stage dependent on the wild bleeding hearts that fill our woods each spring. Even considering all their various stages, their lives are relatively short. But the Yellow Jackets that took over the entrance to our building, as well as the ever-present Bumble Bees in our yard every summer, don’t just come and go, they build and leave behind whole towns!

I often think of next year’s queen bumble bees tucked into
the earth somewhere for the winter. Ahh, sounds cozy!

It is extraordinary that such complex societies are built and die in such condensed time, yet when the pundits of philosophy and religion say our existence here on this little planet called Earth is but a moment in universal time, a ‘blink in the eye of God’, one wonders why we take it all so seriously…is there a greater being out there watching, waiting, for us to disappear so she can clean up our mess and take back what she created? Ah, but fresh young yellow jacket and bumble bee queens will winter over, starting again to create from ‘scratch’ a new world of yellow jackets, or bumblebees. It is enviable really, that they get to start over anew each year.  Newbie yellow jacket queens never return to the same site of ‘the old world’ (fortunately for us!).

Yes, it is enviable.

(I am still wondering where the dead bodies went?!)