So here’s a surprising thing: Hornets don’t trigger my wasp phobia. This morning I was watching a film. It was really early, so I had my headphones on, so as to not piss of the neighbours. And suddenly, I see this wasp-like thing flying into my window. There was a moment of uh-oh, then I took my headphones off and retreated calmly to the other side of the room. It was generating the loudest buzzing I’ve ever heard a single insect make. It seemed a bit bigger than a wasp and seemed to fly slightly differently. A wasp kind of sways and bounces through the air; it knows what point it wants to be at, but stumbles around it. This didn’t - its flight was much more stable than a wasp’s. It knew exactly where it wanted to be and wasn’t going to deviate from that point at all.
It slowly drifted across and flew out the other open window. I took a couple of deep breaths and went back to my film. If it had been a wasp, I’d have collapsed on the floor, twitching for a while until the adrenaline wore off, then closed my windows so that nothing else could get in. But I wasn’t really bothered by this probably-a-hornet.
How can this phobia be so selective? Wasps and hornets are incredibly similar insects. And yet one fills me with fear and disgust, while the other doesn’t worry me at all. I wouldn’t want to be stung by a hornet, but the idea of that doesn’t hold the sameoh god it’s going to inject me with its foul venomickiness that a wasp inspires. More to the point, I’d apparently come to the conclusion that it wasn’t a wasp by the time I’d made it across the room. How did I make up my mind about this so quickly?