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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Wake! Up!: Paper Wasp

Air Date: Week of

Paper wasp perches on top of a flower. (Photo: © Mark Seth Lender)

Living on Earth’s Explorer in Residence Mark Seth Lender aids a paper wasp trying to get outdoors.


O’NEILL: You might not think of stinging insects like wasps as particularly clever. You might not think of them at all, except to regard them with a healthy amount of fear. But Living on Earth’s Explorer in Residence Mark Seth Lender once spotted a paper wasp making clever moves to get out of a building and back to the great outdoors.

Wake! Up!
Paper Wasp

One afternoon, Mark Seth Lender realizes there’s more to a paper wasp than just the sting. (Photo: © Mark Seth Lender)

Midafternoon and the sun shining, unable to keep my head up I lay down soon deep and dreaming.

Until the buzzing started.


Too throaty and strong and loud to be a fly. Something formidable.


I open my eyes:
Paper Wasp.
Around my head –


– and to the window.

And around my head –

and to the window.
The right window.

Not the solid five-foot pane but at the small one alongside, the casement, the one that opens.

I get up. Walk over. Paper Wasp is resting on the frame not at the hinge but at the leading edge. Her wings still. Waiting.

Turn the crank -

Window pivots out –

Paper Wasp, escapes.

And everything I thought I knew of Life on Earth is upended.

O’NEILL: That’s Living on Earth’s Explorer in Residence, Mark Seth Lender.



Mark Seth Lender’s Website


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