ALL ABUZZ ABOUT HORNETS, WASPS
By Ginnie Graham (World Staff Writer)
A man who loves the insects says they are beneficial to humans.
Terry Prouty's self-proclaimed nick-name refers to his hobby, not a superhero.
"Hornetboy" has a buzzing Web site to inform the public about the benefits given to humans by hornets and wasps.
"I do love hornets, and I am a child at heart," Prouty said. "I strongly feel the general public is not as educated on wasps as they should be. They have heard the horror stories about people getting stung and dying. That has given wasps a bad name."
Prouty became interested in the flying insects as a child in Louisiana when he had a friend who started collecting empty wasp nests.
So for the past 20 years, Hornetboy has joined in the little-known hobby. He currently has five nests.
The going rate for a nest ranges from $10 up to nearly $200. Prouty's largest nest, at 44 inches in circumference, was purchased for $175 off the Internet service Ebay from someone in Ohio.
"I'm pretty picky about the nests I collect," he said. "A lot of them will have damage or be torn. I'm looking for nests that are whole or in good shape. And over the years, the nests I've had have been damaged or lost in moves."
To preserve the nests, Prouty sprays them with a clear polyurethane seal and keeps them in his home.
Prouty says the stinging insects serve a purpose by ridding the environment of other unwanted bugs.
"Most people misunderstand, fear and even hate them," he said. "But there are many cases where they have helped people by preying on other pests. They prey on large numbers of flies, caterpillars, bugs and spiders.
"They are used in research and experiments. In some places, they are considered a good source of protein, so people eat them."
Prouty considers himself a wasp specialist, and his Web site touts facts such as the insects' life cycles and how they build nests.
"As a result of my Web site, many people have been enlightened and many wasp colonies have been saved from extermination," Prouty said. "I feel that I am providing a valuble service to the people and the wasps."
Prouty said part of his mission is to save the insects from undue harm by informing people how to react.
"Hornets, yellowjackets and paper wasps should not be needlessly killed unless the nests are located in high-risk areas," Prouty said. "Use common sense and always be respectful. If you do not use common sense and respect, that's when you'll run into trouble."
Hornetboy is not immune to attacks by the insects that he loves.
"I was scared when I got stung eight or nine times once," he said. "But I knew I wasn't allergic to the stingers, and I knew I wasn't going to die. But I ran out of that area like my life depended on it. I did break a speed record that day."
Hornetboy not only has a fondness for the flying stingers. He also owns three snakes, three geckoes, four tarantulas, two scorpions and nine spiders. "I feel my interest with pets aren't the mainstream," Prouty said. "Most people have dogs, cats and even pet fish. For me, I love creepy, crawly creatures."
To view the Hornetboy Web site, go to www.angelfire.com/ok3/vespids/index.html
(Ginnie Graham, World staff writer, can be reached at (918)-581-8376 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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