It turns out that these hornets (Pugnacious bastardus) do not like people to part the shrubbery in order to take pictures of their home.
As I snapped this picture, I could hear the fury building inside the nest and I made my hasty retreat. Not hasty enuf, alas. One of them stung me on the back, just where I couldn’t reach. I swatted ferociously with my hat (yet another reason to wear one in the woods), and let loose a whoop, but by then the damage was done, and the sweat that soaked my shirt only made the sting worse.
These hornets have fallen in life. Literally. You can see that the branch where they had attached their nest has broken from the tree. I don’t think they liked the idea of their nest close to the ground like this. Perhaps that’s why they were so quick to take offense at my presence.
Yes, they play a part in the forest ecology. Yes, I am tolerant of living creatures. Yes, that whole circle of life thing.
But I was just taking a picture. Sheesh!