The first time I noticed the "other" visitors to our bird baths was during a prolonged dry spell in the late 1990's similar to what we are going through right now in eastern Pennsylvania. I was pouring water from our dehumidifier into the birdbath when I had a couple of close fly-bys by some type of wasps. I watched them circle the basin until I was done pouring, and within a matter of seconds, they landed on the edge and began to drink. In less than a few minutes, I guess the word was out because dozens of wasps began to show up.
Fast forward to 2010. My chore for today was power washing the north side of our house which always needs a cleaning every two or three years to clear off the mold & mildew. I got started at about 10 a.m., and was 3/4 through the job when I decided to take a break for lunch. When I went back to turn the water off, I noticed some wasps flying around a small birdbath near our deck. I grabbed the camera and took a few pics until it became obvious I was getting a little too close.
I noticed the newly-hydrated wasps headed out in a direction behind me, but didn't think much beyond staying out of their way. As I discovered a few minutes later, I should have paid closer attention to their flight path.
After lunch, I cranked up the power-washer and got up about 15 feet on the ladder to blast the mildew off the second story shutters when I soon discovered where the wasps had congregated. A few close strafing runs caught my immediate attention, and when I looked at the edge of the shutter and saw dozens of wasps crawling out and heading toward the source of all the ruckus ( me ), I knew it was time to head south as quickly as possible. I dropped the power washer when the first sting arrived, and was about to do my best fireman's slide when I got the full brunt of their fury. I knew in the scheme of things that the stings really weren't going to do much damage or hurt that much, but I still made it down the ladder in a personal best time and kept moving away until they declared victory and went back to the safety of the shutter. About a dozen stings later, suffice it to say the rest of the right upper level of our house will be power washed sometime in November
When I was all done with chore #1, I decided to water the outdoor plants and fill the birdbath along the front walkway. Wouldn't you know it, I started to get company again once the water started splashing into the bowl. This time, I stepped back when I was done and decided to see where the wasps seemed to be coming from. It only took a minute or two to discover that a fold in our PSU flag was serving as a condo for the next generation of stinging bugs on our property.
As I began my post, so I will finish...sort of.
All life on Earth needs (and deserves) clean water to survive. Even the ornery/flying/stinging critters.