Can there be any more fitting a symbol of the Planet of the Weeds that we all live on than the spread of the Japanese Giant Hornet?
The Planet of the Weeds can be a bleak place, but it is certainly not benign. And it is certainly not dull!
A nest of Vespa mandarinia japonica was recently found — and eradicated — near Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. Welcome to B.C., O invasive ones!
The Japanese word for their giant hornet is osuzumebachi — literally, “Great Sparrow Bee.” Because they’re the size of a sparrow. A sparrow!
Everyone is expressing relief that the Nanaimo bridgehead the Sparrow Bees founded was not allowed to thrive. The establishment of these giant hornets would have meant the decimation of honey bee populations in the Nanaimo area. Because the Japanese Giant Hornet preys on honey bees.
These inch-and-a-half long beasts, the epitome of ferocity, originate in Japan. Hence the name. But it seems more likely that they represent an invasion from outer space, like some kind of sci-fi horror premise.
Or better yet, they are the manifestation of an Old Testament-style plague, like something visited on the people of the Pharaohs by a vengeful god.
I’m not allergic to wasp stings, but I believe that should a sparrow bee sting me between the eyes, some horrifying transformation would occur in me — a personality change out of a Stephen King horror plot. Or a grotesque, permanent physical disfigurement.
They are the flying nightmare. They are the hornets from Hell! And, really, we all know it, they are here to stay. Planet of the Weeds.
As if the bees didn’t have enough to worry about — should I say, as if we didn’t have enough to worry about for the bees. The kindest, most interesting, gentlest, most industrious, fuzziest, most useful of species are facing immense pressures for survival, from colony collapse syndrome, from overuse of pesticides, from mites, from invasive species galore. And now this, the worst of all. A predator fearsome enough that not only should we fear for the future of our dear friends Apis, the bees, but that we should really start imagining a future without them.
Without the industry of Apis, the most benign of species on this earth, we face a human society on a fast track to “Blade Runner 2049,” a bleak dystopian future where we’ll need synthetic farming to avoid mass famine, unless we learn to digest ragweed and crow meat — which I’ll admit I’ve not yet tried. Maybe it’s really good.
Planet of the Weeds, where we make our way through giant fields of burdock and outsized field bindweed, brushing aside the swarms of giants hornets, remembering a world that once had bees, grizzly bears, lions, tree frogs, but now is heavily populated with milfoil, purple loosestrife, rats, knotweed, cane toads and giant America bullfrogs, and 10 billion human beings. Planet of the Weeds.