Many years ago, in fact ever since I was a child, I would hate picnics or sunbathing because I would be waiting for that horrifying buzz near my head and I would leap up in fright and proceed to flap about waving at an enemy that had probably long since gone about it's business. It was unthinkable then, that one day I'd not only be immune to the terrifying sounds of my nemeses, but would happily seek them out the middle of hundreds of buzzing insects with a smile on my face, and even tempt hornets into the garden.
As my interest in wildlife photography inexorably led me towards smaller and smaller subject matter, I'd find myself in contact with the bees and wasps I was so nervous around, and I forced myself to grab a few shots. The security that the glass of a camera lens offers is very reassuring! As I took photographs of insects, I became more and more aware of the dizzying variations, and had to delve deeper to identify them, and almost as a side-effect began to learn about behaviour. The more I learned, the more it became obvious that there were very few insects that were vaguely scary, especially not among the pollinators. They are beautiful, and fascinating creatures that I'd spent too many years avoiding!
The media in this country seem intent on pushing these phobias in the other direction sadly, and the papers, as usual at this time of year, love to terrify their readers with tales of the 'invasion' of their homes by huge spiders. And while it is true that in late summer and early autumn, you'll see more house spiders than usual, it is something that has happened for ever, and these poor arachnids are not looking to scare people, they are in fact just looking for love.... This time of year the urge to find a mate becomes all-encompassing and the male Eratigena atrica forgets his usual stealth and just hurtle in the direction of any female he senses, and this will inevitably cause our paths to cross! Rest assured he's focussed on one thing, and you are not it! They may not be the prettiest creatures, but they are more lovelorn, than louts.
My phobias of wasps, bees and to a lesser extent spiders has been removed entirely due to my love of macro photography, and I highly recommend to all to click the shutter button as opposed to the link to the latest scare-story clickbait.
European Hornet (Vespa crabro)