The saw mill and the saw fly

I spent many years of my life as a carpenter in Essex. I often went to the Five Oaks Lane timber yards (Hog Hill, Collier Row) in the 80s and 90s. It specialised in softwood. I was buying some timber one day when a huge female Urocerus arrived. The workers were all too familiar with the beast and they swung into action with lumps of four by two chasing it round and round the yard in blind panic. It eventually chose to land on a pile of sawdust near where I was standing whilst I observed the farce. Urocerus are pretty dopey; and I snatched it just in time, just before the insecticidal hordes arrived. They all stopped dead, mouths wide open as I transferred it from my hand to a Swan Vesta matchbox and stuffed it back in my pocket. They stood agog, then one of the lads, the one that had been serving me said “fuck me mate, didn’t it sting you?” Through gritted teeth I said “yes mate, twice, but you can overcome pain with regular meditation”.

I became a minor celebrity and they all continued their occasional frantic chases around the yard. The specimen is still in my collection, it seems if your name is Urocerus you just can’t win.

Urocerus gigas, a huge fearsome looking but harmless sawfly, the ovipositor is nearly a centimetre long and it cannot sting. It penetrates pine wood to deposit its eggs deep within the wood.

Urocerus Gigas

Urocerus Gigas

This entry was posted in Autobiography, Entomology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The saw mill and the saw fly

  1. J.G. says:

    In need of something to cheer me up, I just found it. Solace in the dictionary was a bonus. Mine tells me that the uro- bit is from the Gk. ouros, meaning tail, and the cerus bit is from Gk. keras, meaning horn (no wonder I had rhinos on my mind). The nicest word: uroceridae. My spirits positively soar. By the way: great title.

  2. delsmith444 says:

    Thanks looks OK. Urocerus *gigas* always lower case for specific name in all Latin binomials.

    Best Wishes Del Smith

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