One of the eeriest symbols of this crazy winter manifested itself up the street late last year. The gradual defoliation of autumn eventually reavealed a basketball sized abandoned hornet nest very high up in a neighborhood tree. During my late morning coffee and newspaper ritual I’ve found myself fascinated by the size and sturdy workmanship of this flying insect habitat. I have no idea when exactly it all started of course, as it remained hidden from view by thick green leaves throughout the spring and summer months.
On very windy days, I would watch it sway menacingly back and forth, feeling certain that eventually it would come ripping down from the fragile branches. The photos below (taken today) show a more gradual fate than I had envisioned for the nesting place’s final days. The huge mounds of snow and ice accumulating atop the nest during the snow storms of the past few weeks have resulted in seepage of water all down through the lower parts. The round entryway therefore appears to be the weakest part of the structure and has now become a gaping, wide open flap.
According to Wikipedia, the inhabitants seldom return to a nest, even if it were to remain intact (that’s a relief!). However, the queen supposedly hibernates throughout winter so that a new nest can be constructed elsewhere nearby. Yiiikkes!
As I’ve said, the strenght of this natural structure is incredible and I imagine a tiny piece of the top portion will remain for quite some time after most of it is all gone, perhaps to be picked at by birds or squirrels. Who would’ve anticipated such a cataclysmic winter, much less this additional bit of strange, natural drama outside our window!