He was well protected by a beekeeping suit, and armed with a shovel to hack away at the monstrous hornets’ nest.
“We got here, what I would say, is the granddaddy of all hornets’ nests,” Jude Verret, a Louisiana exterminator, said as he headed into a shed in Patterson, La., to clear a nest of Europan Yellow Jackets.
Beyond physical protection, Verret must have been armed with quite a bit of courage, given the sheer size of the nest — and the million or more hornets he said were swarming around inside.
Verret recorded the entire encounter on video. As Verret walks toward the wasp-infested shed in the video he posted on Facebook, the constant, deafening drone of the yellow jackets nearly drowns out his narration of what he’s doing.
“I’m actually not usually scared,” Verret said in the video.
Then again, most nests aren’t quite this colossal, Verret told the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
This nest was “refrigerator-sized,” he told “Inside Edition,” guessing that the sprawling nest was likely home to more than a million hornets.
As he entered the shed, yellow and black striped insects start to swarm and thwack against his protective suit, creating a din that sounds like torrential rain thudding against a tin roof. Their small bodies become huge as they fly into the GoPro camera Verret brought along to record his 45-minute extermination.
Luckily for Verret, who has been a licensed exterminator for 12 years, he wasn’t stung at all during the process, he told the Times-Picayune.
“I usually get stung,” Verret told the newspaper. “But this time, no, I lucked out.”
More than 900 people in the U.S. died between 1999 and 2014 after getting too near hornets, wasps or bees, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data cited by CNN.
“[W]hen you’re looking at attacks from wild animals only, the most common cause of death are due to venomous animals, like wasps or bees,” Dr. Joseph Forrester, a Stanford University surgeon who has studied animal-related fatalities, told CNN. “I think people have in their mind that the most dangerous animals are cougars, bears or alligators, but a bee is more dangerous if a person is predisposed to a reaction.”
A large number of those deaths are the result of allergies: As many as 90 to 100 Americans die from allergic reactions to insect stings each year, according to the CDC.
Even for those who aren’t allergic, though, bee or hornet stings can be excruciating. From Verret’s perspective, the stings from the European Yellow Jackets he was exterminating are more painful than most.
“They’re bad, terrible,” Verret told the Times-Picayune of the insects. “There’s nothing good about them, I don’t think.”