- These seem to have been little regarded by English folklore. Kill the first wasp you see and you will have good luck and freedom from enemies all the year is reported from Northamptonshire in N&Q in 1850, and occasionally since then, but this is more commonly said of *butterflies and sometimes of *snakes. Lean records a proverb, 'If you kill one wasp, three will come to his funeral' (Lean, 1902: i. 451), but this is said of other insects, such as *beetles. Cures for wasp-stings naturally occur regularly in traditional medicine, a raw *onion rubbed on the sting being a favourite cure. According to a correspondent from Stourport in N&Q (4s:8 (1874), 547) it is possible to handle wasps without being stung: 'A small boy in this parish takes wasps' nests with impunity, and without the usual armour of gloves and mask, by merely uttering a low whistle, keeping it up while he removes the comb.'■ Opie and Tatem, 1989: 426; Lean, 1902: i. 451; ii. 32.
A Dictionary of English folklore. Jacqueline Simpson & Steve Roud. 2014.
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