I thought I'd give the carpets a good clean before moving in the furniture. Lo and behold, as I was just about to start the job, I found this creature. Sluggish but alive and well. In January!
Now I'll come clean and say that wasps weren't my favourite creatures for a long time. Anyone who's ever had a blast of their neurotoxin, seemingly for no reason other than malice, will understand why. But since a bunch of them built a nest in my compost heap I've marvelled at their cleverness. That structure was so fine and intricate. They didn't get troublesome until the autumn either. Then I'm afraid that, at a neighbour's request, Rentokil had to move in.
I was loathe to terminate the life of this little beastie. After all, a little bit of Internet research suggested that, due to her size, she might be a queen. Apparently, I found out that wasps provide effective pest control so they're not completely devil spawn after all. And I'd listened to a TED talk by a monk, Matthieu Ricard earlier in the day. He'd advocated that we adopt altruism as a lifestyle, not only towards humans but to other animals.
Lesson learned. I carefully picked queen wasp up. She was verrrrry sleepy and I've popped her at the back of a cupboard with the door open a crack so she can get out when she wants to leave. Hopefully she'll wake up in the spring and find somewhere to build her home, a long way from my own garden!