Entomologists, those scientists who find insects fascinating the way children do, have the ambivalent task, often enough, of controlling pests and killing what they find so fascinating. Such was the case with entomologist and bee removal expert Jonathan Simkins, when he was called in to a privately-owned hunting ground to remove a nest of “Jurassic” proportions.
“I have never seen a nest this large in my entire life,” Simkins told WFLA. “This is the prehistoric nest from the dinosaur ages.” And he was called to vanquish it. The six-by eight foot nest housed a thousand queen wasps and a million workers.
“When I first went out there this colony was camouflaged. I didn’t even see it until we walked up to it.” Within 40 meters, sentry yellow jackets buzzed up to him to see what he was up to.
He provoked the nest to study their defense methods, and then spent two days destroying the magnificent palace.
“The noise was amazing. It was like a yellow jacket tornado coming for me,” he said, as thestar.com reported. “The alarm pheromone was so strong it made my eyes water and my nose run. When they land on you they regurgitate so the others can find you.”
“I have to be honest with you, I was terrified at one point,” he told NBC, “and there were several times that I had to pull out and get a breather. My heart rate was racing, I had hundreds of them on my veil.”
He received seven stings in the battle, all on his neck where the wasps breached the cloth mesh protecting his head. When he returned to visit the dead colony the next day, one last wasp got him in revenge, “One last hit from one last yellow jacket, a goodbye sting on my finger.”
“We definitely did save lives,” he said, “If somebody comes across this, you’re not going to get away…I run a hundred yards way and I still have thousands of yellow jackets chasing me, all over me, trying to kill me.”
Melodramatic words for a scientist to use, but then, he probably just fought the most epic battle of his career.