WHO’S afraid of creepie-crawlies? Not Mark Curtis, founder of the Forest Machine Operators Blog, that’s for sure. And certainly not ones that look like big yellow-and-black darts, which zip around the forest and settle on your cab when you’re just trying to get on with the day’s work. Nope, not at all.

The giant horntail, while looking like a very large wasp, is harmless, according to the Wildlife Trust. The female uses her long, stinger-like ovipositor to lay eggs in pine trees, where the larvae then develop … apparently.

“It’s a conspiracy,” Mark wrote on the Blog, accompanied by a video of a ‘wood wasp’ clinging to the windshield wiper of his machine. “I hate them! I don’t care if they don’t sting, they just look mean enough to sting, and why do they just fly into you again and again?”

“You should try the Asian hornet then! Those are big and they sting a lot!” was the top reply, along with some helpful facts – “The Asian hornet’s sting can cause kidney failure. In 2013, stings by Asian giant hornets killed 41 people and injured more than 1,600 people in Shaanxi, China.”

So, consider yourself lucky, I suppose?

Forestry Journal: Matt Neil.Matt Neil.

Another reply was quick to reassure Mark that they wouldn’t sting – but they will lay their eggs on you. “They sound like a bloody Chinook coming through the woods at you!”

One Irish Blog member chimed in: “I hate them! I leave the cab at breakneck speed if one happens to get in, and it’s not like me to move fast!”

READ MORE: Bites from the Blog: The state of welfare

Mark followed up his initial post with another, again accompanied by a video of the offending beastie. “What purpose in life has a wood wasp?” he mused. “OBVIOUSLY, I’m not afraid of them but you could forgive someone for screaming like a big girl on helium if one got in the cab, if that were to happen to someone – other than me.”

Again, Blog members were more than happy to share their thoughts.

“They don’t sting but if you’re a cutter in the summer covered in sap, they could mistake you for a piece of wood and bore into you with that stinger,” warned one member.  “I had one attack me while I was using the saw and I could hear it coming, over the chainsaw! I got lucky; I swung the measuring stick and somehow, I hit it. It didn’t come back.”

Another: “I remember many years ago when the skidder operator caught one and took the filling out of one of the sawman’s sandwiches and replaced it with one of those. There was quite a crunch when he bit through it.”

Forestry Journal: Sarah Yeaman.Sarah Yeaman.

And when the working day is done and you’re looking to relax with a pint, the wood wasp has its uses, according to another response. “Stick it in a big matchbox and take it to the pub. It makes for a very entertaining evening.”

Elsewhere on the Blog, there was a discussion around the younger generation and their attempts to save the planet. Sharing a video of environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Mark (having put his wood wasp phobia to one side) wrote: “I have a lot of admiration for young folk who want to do something to better the world, but I for one am getting a little tired of a generation who, granted, are well meaning, talking down to generations who have gone before them.

READ MORE: Bites from the Blog: Access all areas?

“I’m not saying all they say is wrong, but talk is cheap; where are the costings? If you were to dissect a lot of these arguments you would, in theory, have to drop most commercial activities involving production involving metals and timber and most fuels.

Forestry Journal: Piotr Duda.Piotr Duda.

“I would much rather hear them tell us how that happens, rather than preach to us … and may I add I am not putting this up here for us all to insult and fire abuse at this young lady and her friends, that would just be childish, but surely they need to engage on a real-world practical level.”

The man makes a good point, and it got members talking, including a youngster who offered their perspective: “As someone who is part of this generation, I think there are a lot of people living in a fantasy land. Far too many people are regarded as experts who really know nothing. The thing is the young generation is being taught this.

Forestry Journal: Jack Osborne.Jack Osborne.

“I still think the education system has a lot to answer for. They’re happy to teach you about illegal deforestation of the rainforest, but no mention about the proper way to do things. As a result, they associate all felling as being bad. We now have a lot of people who think forestry and farming practices from third world countries are what goes on here.”

READ MORE: Bites from the Blog: Recruitment drive

Another member agreed: “Schools have a lot to answer for all of this. My daughter was being taught about it a few weeks ago. She came home and called me a murderer for killing the trees!”

Forestry Journal: Shaun Stewart.Shaun Stewart.

A Devon-based Blog member put it bluntly: “They are children. I think it’s up to us to figure out the practicalities as we are the adults with the real-world experience.”

And Mark agreed, adding: “Good point, but I can’t help feeling that there are adults pushing forward these young people to do their bidding which I think is totally unfair as I agree they have no real-world experience.”

Forestry Journal: Marc Mackenzie.Marc Mackenzie.

On the subject of real-world experience, or lack thereof, we would be remiss not to mention the new Netflix sensation centring around a Canadian crew of loggers – Big Timber. So, what does the Blog reckon? The general consensus is it’s overly dramatic and staged, but it’s interesting and there’s some decent machinery on show so it’s worth a watch.

“It’s not as hard as they make it look,” added one Australian logger.

What do you think? Head over to the Forest Machine Operators Blog on Facebook to share your view.

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