I don’t like hornets, and I *really* don’t like these hornets

Nor would I much like any insect described as “the last thing you see before you die.” I make it my practice to avoid any form of insect life that looks like it came straight out of the Book of Revelation.

Those are not hornets.  Those are Zanti Misfits.

On the bright side, these… things from hell don’t live in Australia, where almost everything else in nature that wants to kill you lives.  One of my abiding memories from a wonderful visit I made to Oz a couple of years ago was of having dinner at my friend Peter’s house and, afterward, the children gathered round to pore over one of their favorite tomes: a big fat book detailing all the different sorts of things in Australia–insect, reptile, fish, and mammal–that seek to inflict grisly death on humans and on each other.  It made the laugh of the kookaburra outside the window suddenly seem filled with menacing malice. Australia wants you dead, human!

The children were delighted with the book and it was well-worn and dog-eared.  Aussies are a tough breed.

  • lavallette

    American myths: There are no kangaroos hoping down the main streets of Melbourne or Sydney or any other city in Australia. As for the other “deadly animals” if you do not bother them or venture into their terrain they will not bother you. There have been many stories by “foreigners” depicting the harmless huntsman spider, which ventures into houses as a harbinger of rain, as some sort of “super venomous death dealing tarantula” creature purely because of its size.

    • JB

      Ditto that. Here in my suburb of Perth, in the nearby park every spring I see a few dugite brownsnakes crawling across the footpath during their mating season. Dugite venom is stronger than a cobra’s, but if you just avoid they’ll leave you alone – unlike Aborigines.

      Same goes for the spiders. Yes those big hairy huntsman spiders are harmless. The most dangerous ones are redbacks – cousins of Black Widows – and every year a few of them find their way into corners of our house, but since they don’t hunt they don’t walk around the house, they just sit in their webs and pose no danger unless you’re stupid enough to put your hand in a dark corner.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      There have been many stories by “foreigners” depicting the harmless
      huntsman spider, which ventures into houses as a harbinger of rain, as
      some sort of “super venomous death dealing tarantula” creature purely
      because of its size.

      Austrailia: the land where even the harmless spiders are absurdly large.

      • lavallette

        Absurdly large but still harmless! Just like Australia itself: more than three times bigger than Alaska and Texas combined but harmless. . So what do you expect of its spiders.?.

    • Dsarker

      What? You’ve got to be joking. Head up to Canberra, there’s enough roos on the streets we have an annual cull of the buggers.

      • lavallette

        Canberra is not a city: it is a souless “asylum” in the countryside where we endeavour to put President Reagans maxim into practice and keep Commonwealth public servants as far away as possible from the real Australian cities. They do go crazy every now and then and go on a shooting spree of our National symbol..

        • Dsarker

          It’s a great place. And kangaroos are delicious.

  • wlinden

    And don’t forget the cane toads.

    “Queensland toads! Queensland toads!
    “They’re everywhere you are….”

    • lavallette

      They are Brazilian!!!!! Unless you are referring to the Queenslanders!. The New South Welshmen are called “Cockroaches” and the South Australians are called “The Crows”.

      • Dsarker

        Nah, the South Australians are crow /eaters/.

  • wlinden

    There was an old man of St. Bees
    Who was stung in the arm by a wasp.
    When they asked “Does it hurt?”
    He replied “No, it doesn’t.
    “I’m glad that it wasn’t a hornet!”
    — W.S. Gilbert

  • JB

    As an Australian I can tell you the “insensitive” fact that you’re a thousand times more likely to be attacked by an Aborigine than by any non-human creatures.

    But back to cane toads: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYUHnf7Uy1k

    • wlinden

      At least they didn’t call this one “The Cane Toads Strike Back”.

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    My daughter would love that book too. Her current favorite is an encyclopedia of snakes. The green anaconda is her favorite, but I favor the gaboon viper.

  • kenofken

    I remember hosting some young Australian guy years ago in Bloomington, Indiana during the fall. I told him Americans impression of how exotic his country’s wildlife is. He thought our squirrels were the strangest damn thing he’d ever seen. It was high acorn season and the woods were crawling with them.

  • Lorenz

    I live in Canada and although not as exotic, it appears that the wildlife has become less afraid of humans and in many cases are taking back lost ground. As a kid growing up on an acreage just north of Edmonton, it was rare to see deer. Now when visiting my mom it is quite common to see them and even the occaisonal moose strolling around the front lawn. They can be deadly during mating and calving seaons. And with prey comes the predators, cougars (mountain lions) sightings are regularly reported within the city limits. Last week I took my daughter for a walk through a small forest where I grew up so she could do documentation for a science project and there was a killed deer that was fed upon. A week later, the remains were mostly consumed. Not as shocking as enlarged hornets or exotic reptiles, but I have a nagging fear of cougars, bears, and even aggressive coyotes when entering wilderness even in the close proximity to urban areas.

  • Stu

    Okay, who is playing Jumanji again?

    I thought we talked about that.

  • Chris BSomething

    Really? As an Australian I always considered the critters here less fearful than any other place on earth. Yeah, you don’t go in the water way up north because of the crocs, and in theory there are some dangerous spiders and snakes, but in practice, you rarely see them. We don’t have grizzly bears, lions, piraña fish, rhinos, giant ants, etc. mostly kangaroos and koalas is all you’re going to see in the bush. I have no fears at all in the Australian wilderness.

    • JB

      “I have no fears at all in the Australian wilderness.”

      Neither do I, but whenever I’m waiting at a bus stop and see an Aborigine hurling himself toward me to threaten me into giving him money – or whenever Aborigines bang on my car door to threaten me into consenting to a robbery – I don’t exactly have “fear”, but I do make it clear to them that I’ll fight back. Threatening them back is the only thing they listen to.

      Sorry but you’re all – including the other Aussies here – avoiding the fact that the real menace among Australia’s wild species, is Aborigines. They’re savages, their culture is brutal, and I’m sick of making excuses for them.

      • Chris BSomething

        “Neither do I, but whenever I’m waiting at a bus stop and see an Aborigine hurling himself toward me to threaten me into giving him money”

        Can’t comment because it never happened to me. Must be something that goes on in the far outback.

  • Sigroli

    What’s with all the racist remarks against Australian aboriginals? Give yourselves a shake. (Mark, you shouldn’t allow this racist nonsense to stand.)

    • chezami

      They’re gone. Sorry. Been busy.

      • Sigroli

        Danke. 8-D