Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Waspers Are Out…Or Were Out

My life in appalachia - Wasper

Waspers are out and about…at least they were before Dogwood winter arrived. We have an unusually large mailbox. Granny bought it for us when we first moved into our house nearly 20 years ago. She found it at Bud’s for 5 dollars-a real bargain-and Granny can never turn down a bargain.

When I stopped to get the mail on the way home from work this week, a wasper was in the mailbox. The cooler temps had it barely moving. The next day it was still there sitting and waiting for the warmth to return so it could go about it’s merry way and continue building the nest it has started underneath the mail box.

Just in case you didn’t know a wasper = a wasp. According to the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English, a wasp is also sometimes called a jasper. But in my neck of the woods it’s just a wasper.


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  • Reply
    April 20, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    For sure the cold weather didn’t seem to get rid of the waspers here. They are everywhere.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 19, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    and the big two incher..European Hornet…that will attack lights and knock you plum silly if they sting you…We had a nest of’em in a small crack in the ceiling of our old back porch. We tore down the porch a year or so later, we had already sprayed for the big yellow hornets. Just for funsies we pulled the ceiling paneling apart. Would you know that whole inside was full of combs. Since we didn’t use that back area often, and the kids are grown, it was very quiet and they just made theirselves a homesweethome! We haven’t seen any in a couple of years now.
    My WARNING…If you should wonder if there is a nest in a outside wall, porch ceiling or outdoor building…DO NOT TAKE THE FLASHLIGHT AT NIGHT TO GO LOOK FOR THEM like you do ground dwelling yellow jackets or you will be attacked at least they dive bomb the lights and if they accidently land on your arm your stung!
    Thanks Tipper…
    Folks can Google the European Hornet and read about that rascal..Looks like a giant yellow jacket!
    PS…I am wondering if Eva’s bees were the aggressive killer bees that are moving into our area of East Tennessee! It is time for Honey bees to break the old hive and start the swarm (a new queen) for a new one..I am surprised the swarm stayed there that long…usually if they are swarming they leave in a few hours or a day at the latest hunting for a hollow tree or building. I am so glad they were’nt sprayed, if they were honey bees.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 19, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I think I am offended that all these people call those stinging demons Jasper. My great grandfather was named Jasper. People ought to stop and think about the words they choose lest they stereotype a group of people. Just Kidding but I hope my point is well taken.
    On Wiggins Creek we called them wausp or waust, like tmc, along with a few more bleepable words.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Yes, Tipper, we call them waspers around here and today they are out in droves!They keep trying to get inside every time we open the door.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    April 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Them waspers hurt the most of all bees.
    We use to gouge the nests off old
    houses and barns for fish bate. Trout
    love the larvie so much, you have to get behind a tree to bait your hook.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2014 at 11:14 am

    and don’t forget – hornet!

  • Reply
    April 19, 2014 at 11:13 am

    – so many varieties – so many names – yellow jacket, red devil, pinch waist, mud dauber, . . . .

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    April 19, 2014 at 10:16 am

    The waspers were out at our house too when we left Monday. We are in Fort Worth Texas and I haven’t seen any waspers here but the winds blows so much they probably can’t stay put anywhere.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2014 at 10:03 am

    I saw a couple of ’em earlier this week but none, of course, in the last two days. The Amalgamated Affiliation of Mud-daubers and I have an agreement; they can build anywhere they want to in my shop so long as they keep off the machinery, and I agree to not swat ’em when they fly close to me.
    True “Peaceful Co-existence”.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike
    April 19, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Speaking of stinging insect, you can call them what you wish, but you better be fast on your feet. A couple of weeks ago I was mowing the grass at our UT Rental house. All of a sudden I became and ATTRACTOR to buzzing insects – which I called YELLOW JACKETS – so I made a BEE LINE to the pick-up truck. Those determined insects circled the truck for ten minutes. To make a bee story longer, Jim Wike went back to ‘examine’ the bees this week. He decided they might be Honey Bees and should be protected! He was mowing the grass as I had stated I WOULD NEVER MOW there again. As he was mowing through the ‘bee’ territory, he noticed a strange shadow on the ground – but he was in a cleared area. Suddenly he decided he better LOOK UP! Wham! He did so and then he decided to LOOK OUT AND RUN! He did not get stung.
    This afternoon he and a BEE KEEPER will go back to the bee site and try to capture the honey bees. Stay stung oops! Stay tuned!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    C. Ron Perry, Sr.
    April 19, 2014 at 9:30 am

    My wife’s mother is from East Tennessee and they call it a waspee down ther

  • Reply
    April 19, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Okay! A new word, but one that could be deciphered easily. However, I sure hope you removed that ‘wasper’ before it continued building its nest. I found out the hard way that I am allergic to wasp stings or other such stingers. On the other hand, I hope you have found Mr. & Mrs. Rabbit ready for those jellybean deliveries. Happy Easter to all who celebrate.

  • Reply
    steve in Tn
    April 19, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Waspers…get one of those “electric” fly swatters and everyone will want to help to eliminate them. Don’t like to kill animals just for fun, but don’t like waspers or sketters too close tho the house…

  • Reply
    Gina S
    April 19, 2014 at 8:29 am

    You’ve explained for me why a bothersome person is sometimes called a jasper. I’ve never heard a wasp called a jasper, though. Happy Easter to you and your family from the Swannanoa Valley.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    April 19, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I knew exactly what you were talking about, Tipper. That’s what I have always called them. One day when I was little, we were all walking up the holler, back towards home. We were taking a short cut through a field and I poked my finger inside a skinny pipe that was sticking up. There just happened to be a wasper’s nest inside that pipe. You know, among stinging insects, a wasper’s sting is just about the worse sting there is. Needless to say, I don’t go poking my fingers into places I shouldn’t any more.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Had not heard of that term! But have seen a few here also. AND those nasty stink bugs!!!!!

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    April 19, 2014 at 7:56 am

    They were called waspers a lot in East Tennessee when I was growing up in the 1950s-1960s. They sure could make us hurt!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 19, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I saw a couple of waspers before this cold snap hit. I’ve heard them called waspers all my life but never heard of jaspers.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    April 19, 2014 at 7:26 am

    I wonder where jasper came from?

  • Reply
    April 19, 2014 at 6:54 am

    I’ve heard it pronounced a different way here, if I can spell it the way it sounds. , waust,…and that’s the more common way here… The little devils..

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 19, 2014 at 6:32 am

    Hey again,
    I had to ask…Has anyone but me noticed an increase of sorts in the honey bees this year?
    I hope so, but then I could be hoping against hope that they are making a bit of a comeback!
    I saw more of them on the Crab Apple blooms and a lot on the creeping charlie…yes I have the stuff in my yard…but I love the minty smell when you walk on it, so it stays until the little purple blooms fade anyhow..
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    April 19, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Our newspaper box, attached to our mailbox post, yeilded a boxfull of moss and dryed leaves and pieces yesterday morning. Roy emptied it quick…to discourage the little sweet wrens that were attempting to build in it!
    I have seen the “red Devil waspers” too…When I walk along one of my garden paths, the red sedum has jumped up and the “red Devils seem to enjoy landing on them! Eventhough it is a long while til they bloom, the waspers must think it will be soon! Of course, they could just be pickin’ off spiders or other mini critters that are visiting the sedum. If I get too close, (to pull a weed) those wings flare out in defiance, while turning around to get all eye cells on me! I sure hate to get stung by the red “devil” wasper, ’cause it hurts like the devil!
    Thanks Tipper for the reminder to watch out for them…
    PS…I have a tall can of Miracle Grow that sits on my porch shelf.
    It is packed in indiviual plastic packages…The lid had been knocked off or not? I kept hearing songs closer and closer to the porch…I found it…Down in that tall square box of Miracle Grow was a wrens nest.
    I can’t feed my plants until the wren eggs hatch and leave…I hope the miracle grow helps speed up the process…LOL
    The lid was left off

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