Or should that be vespe? Having suffered a plague of flying ants recently, Cambridge is now undergoing a plague of wasps. And I hate wasps.
I still hear it regularly trotted out that wasps are fascinating creatures that won't sting you if you leave them alone. This is such nonsense. I have been stung sitting on a tube, where the first I even knew about the wasp was the sting it rammed in my neck. I was stung mowing the lawn at our house in Norfolk. A wasp dropped out of an apple tree onto my head (which was closely cropped and tonsured by time's tweezers) and stung me twice before I flicked it off.
Wasps are evil. They may rid the garden of pests and pollinate orchards. They may read stories to old people in hospitals and save baby seals from fur trappers for all I know, but they are coming between me and my peaches and they need to be stopped.
Stopped, I tell you!
Well - all right, perhaps I don't actually hate them. I find all animal life fascinating to a varying degree and wasps, like ants, do have a particular weird intensity about them. I suppose its just that whilst you can watch a bee going about its business safe in the knowledge that it is more interested in pollen than you, wasps have that drunken 'Who are you looking at?' unpredictability about them.
And then there are the numbers. When there are a couple of wasps it doesn't seem quite so bad (though even one determined wasp can spoil a picnic) but at the moment there are thousands of them. I walked into our tiny back garden the other day and heard a rasping sound I took to be something - a mouse say - gnawing away at something. But it turned out to be a dozen or so wasps rasping away at the wooden fence, gathering their materials for a bout of nest-building. I don't want to hear wasps chewing. It's wrong and bit scary.