Waiting for the bus with wasps at Franconia-Springfield


(Ben Claassen III/For Express)

UPDATE 1:30 p.m.: A second wasp nest has been spotted at Franconia-Springfield. This one is in Bus Bay G. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel says it’s being taken down as well.

While waiting at the Franconia-Springfield Metro last week, Jason Yaskoir, 43, spotted some unwelcome company: wasps. There were dozens of them headed toward a nest inside Bus Bay H. (Or as I’m now going to call it, “Bus Bay AHHHHHHHHH!!!”)

The discovery explained why his roommate had been stung in the same location a few days earlier. So Yaskoir took to Twitter — as @JFoodgeek — to post photos, and asked Metro to do something about it.

So how should Metro handle a situation like this? According to Ted R. Schultz, a research entomologist at the National Museum of Natural History, the best course of action might be to do nothing. Over email, he identified these particular creatures as paper wasps, which generally aren’t much of a nuisance. And besides, he added, they’re so interesting.

“If it were just me, with my pro-insect bias, I would consider watching the wasps to be my entertainment while waiting for the bus,” offered Schultz, who noted that they make their own paper from wood scrapings.

But, Schultz admitted, when wasps feel threatened, they sting. And if their target happens to be allergic to wasp venom, “the person could go into anaphylactic shock.” So as much as he likes to preserve wasp habitats, Schultz acknowledged that even he’d probably “take the nest down.” (Translation: kill the wasps.)


Rider Jason Yaskoir snapped this photo of the wasp nest Tuesday afternoon. (Jason Yaskoir)

And that’s what happened. On Wednesday — about a week after Yaskoir first noticed the wasps — the nest was removed. Spokesman Dan Stessel advises riders that there’s no reason to be alarmed: Wasp nests don’t pop up in bus shelters often. (And if riders want a speedier response to such problems, they should tell a station manager or use wmata.com/contactus, instead of relying on tweets.)

But Schultz, who seemed determined to give me the heebie-jeebies, pointed out that wasps prefer to build nests under overhangs and in other places sheltered from the rain. “Like bus stops, apparently,” he added.

Maybe the best way to get around this summer is by fleeing in terror.

Read Previous Columns:

Metro’s timing for a fare hike couldn’t be worse

It’s the 75th anniversary of pedestrian signals in DC!

Here’s the deal with using car-share services on vacation

Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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