Q. Dear Umbra,

What’s the most environmentally responsible way to deal with hornets and yellow jackets nesting near people? Sprays seem pretty toxic to everything (not just the stingers) and I wouldn’t want to make things even harder for honeybees and other pollinators. We’ve had several stinging episodes (a hornet sting is extremely painful), and they can be pretty aggressive even when they don’t sting.

Stephens F.
Asheville, North Carolina

A. Dearest Stephens,

If a group of butterflies is called a flutter and a group of ants is an army, what’s a group of hornets called? A grist! I confess, this means I have a warm spot in my heart for these stripy insects, even if they do pack a mean punch on the stinger end. But I’d appreciate hornets and yellow jackets even without their group name — they bring a lot to the table by hunting and devouring critter pests such as flies, caterpillars, and other bugs. That, and they certainly deserve a place on the “Nature’s Biggest Badasses” list. You can’t help but admire that just a bit.