Monday, October 6, 2014

Australia, land of dangerous animals

One thing that I noticed, and also discussed with another German couple yesterday, is that many Australians have an odd set of priorities when dealing with what one might call dangerous animals.

This is the continent of brown snakes, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis ticks, bull ants, redbacks, funnel-webs, box jellyfish, Irukandji jellyfish, stonefish, sharks and salties, and the Australians take it all in stride. Nobody seems to see a big problem with swimming in tropical waters or walking through the bush.

On the other hand, quite a few Australians seem to freak out when presented with the following - whoo! - daaaangerous animals: the honeybee and the European wasp. There are warning signs all over the place (see picture above), and yesterday I was told that the Australian National University has an actual "caution - bees in lavender" sign in front of one of the campus flowerbeds. The same person also told me of Australian friends who obsessively fumigate their patio whenever they see a single honeybee flying around.

Okay, so you can be allergic against their stings, but then again a brown snake bite can kill even non-allergic people. And many people become seriously allergic against bull ant stings, and those insects are everywhere, but nobody seems to mind.

Bees and wasps are really not that dangerous or aggressive; if we treated them like that in Europe we would have to have a warning sign every five meters and in everybody's garden. What is going on here? Is it just that they have been introduced relatively recently? But they would still have been introduced generations ago, right?

1 comment:

  1. It's a really good observation, and very odd.
    I can think of two possibilities:
    1. bees and wasps are urbanized to an extent that most of the other unfriendly wildlife aren't, so the helpless/hopeless element who wouldn't go walking in the bush anyway, are exposed, and make fuss about it.
    2. doesn't explain the bees as much, but certainly in Canberra european wasps are a relatively recent invasion (even within the last ten years there was a general denial that they even existed there) and so there is some element of the unfamiliar, exotic new menace.