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139054.  Thu Jan 25, 2007 8:18 pm Reply with quote

Lovely article in today's Guardian about wasps.

Here's the abridged version: Social insects are so called because they live in colonies of closely-related sisters. Researchers have always believed that 'foreigners' entering nests would be attacked by inhabitants. However, researchers studying the paper wasp in Panama found there was 31 times more social intercourse between nests than previously thought.

They radio-tagged 422 wasps, and monitored them for over 6000 hours, discovering that visitors would not only join a new colony but stay and work for it for a while. 56% of wasps moved from nest to nest.

One theory to account for this behaviour is that newcomers joined nests where there was a genetic relationship between them and the nest, albeit not as direct as that in their 'home' nest.

139080.  Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:11 am Reply with quote

Does anyone know why the slang for wasp is Jasper? This may just be a southern thing...I've tried to find out in the past and could find any reasons. Could be a corruption of Vespa, could also refer to the colour of jasper, a kind of quartz....but I couldn't confirm either.

139083.  Fri Jan 26, 2007 5:27 am Reply with quote

I also knew them as Jaspers as a yoof but have no idea where it hails from . Seems to be pretty widespread across southern England (SW to East Anglia at least).

Interestingly, but totally coincidental, the virtually obsolete acronym Jasper is related to WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant):

139110.  Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:05 am Reply with quote

As themoog notes, this term seems to be widespread in the southern half of England - as stated, it's used from the south west to East Anglia and also in parts of the midlands, but not in the north so far as I can tell.

No-one really seems to know its origin, "unknown but old" is about the best I can find. Very tentatively, I note that the mineral jasper is often banded and wonder if it might be something to do with this. The OED does give citations for the use of the word jasper as an adjective meaning something like "stripey", notably in the first English translation of Don Quixote (Shelton's of 1620).

139112.  Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:09 am Reply with quote

Shirley Suze has it there. I couldn't find anything as relevant in my SOED but should have remembered Banded Jasper. Would be nice to track down something concrete to link them.

139603.  Sun Jan 28, 2007 8:28 am Reply with quote

We had a wasp related tradition at my secondary school.

After the killing of the first wasp of the year, we had to write our initials on the floor with it by squishing it's corpse underfoot.

Was that peculiar to Matthew Arnold in Staines?

gerontius grumpus
139629.  Sun Jan 28, 2007 9:34 am Reply with quote

I thought the name 'jasper' for a wasp was related to their Latin name 'vespa'.
Like Suze, I haven't come across the the use of the name 'jasper' for wasps in the north, but I remember it from my school days in Gloucestershire.

Another difference I've noticed is in the south west, wasps nest underground and in the north east they tend to nest in bushes.

139660.  Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:43 am Reply with quote

I was born in Manchester and brought up in Nottingham, and I have never heard of 'Jasper' for wasp until today.
From my earliest memories they have never been any other then 'wabbies' to us.

192948.  Fri Jul 20, 2007 2:34 am Reply with quote

I was born in the South but grew up in Sheffield and now live in France. Jasper was used in our school when a wasp entered the classroom (it was like a call to arms!). Since moving to France it dawned on me that Jasper probably had something to do with the French word for wasp "GuÍpe", which also comes from Latin "Vespa". The older French version of GuÍpe was Guespe and you can imagine how Guespe and Jasper could be linked.

There is a very interesting explanation about the way Vespa became GuÍpe and Wasp on this page :

Jasper, apparently is a form of the first name Casper!

192974.  Fri Jul 20, 2007 3:40 am Reply with quote

We always use to call them "Urrgh. Bloody Wasp! Shoo!" or at least my mum did.



436852.  Sat Nov 08, 2008 11:58 am Reply with quote

I grew up just south of Glasgow in the early 80s, and jasper was the cry when anything stripy buzzed past.

436917.  Sat Nov 08, 2008 1:29 pm Reply with quote

Welcome to the forums, Bumfle :-)

449409.  Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:41 pm Reply with quote

Bumfle wrote:
I grew up just south of Glasgow in the early 80s, and jasper was the cry when anything stripy buzzed past.

Weird. I grew up in the South of Glasgow in the 70's/80's and I've never heard wasps called that. Or bees. Or burglars.

449412.  Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:47 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
...interesting stuff.....

Well, I at least found that interesting, Jenny!

I'd love it if they later found there was no genetic relationship - hah! now explain that, smartypants!

Maybe it's just like me going to USA and working and paying taxes to Uncle Sam or you coming to UK and working and paying taxes to Queen Lizzy?

(Bizzy Lizzy, bzz bzz)

449466.  Tue Dec 02, 2008 4:17 pm Reply with quote

Weird. I grew up in the South of Glasgow in the 70's/80's and I've never heard wasps called that. Or bees. Or burglars.

nor me...

but wasps are C***S !


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