A British man entering a seldom-used bedroom in the home of his mother got a shock when he discovered thousands of wasps had created a massive nest in the mattress of a bed.
Experts estimated around 5,000 wasps had entered through a window that was left open in the home in Winchester in Hampshire and built the nest by chewing through the bedding, including the mattress, blanket and pillow.
The room, with its open window, hadn't been entered by anyone for months.
Local pest-control expert John Birkett was brought in to deal with the nest.
"I had to put all my protective gear on," he says. "At one stage there must have been 2,000 wasps buzzing around me. If someone had gone in to the room and not known what it was it would have been pretty serious."
Wasps normally use wood they've chewed into a pulp to build their nests, but seemed to have no problems using the resources of the bedroom, chewing an 8-inch hole into the mattress.
Dismantling the nest, which had grown to about 3 feet by 1.5 feet, and killing the wasps with a chemical spray took two hours.
Colonies of wasps reaching their population peak in late summer can contain hundreds of the insects, experts say, and when they build their nests that number can increase to many thousands.
Birkett said the largest nest he'd ever found inside a house's room until now had been about the size of a tennis ball.
"In 45 years I have never seen anything like it," he says.
The size of the nest was probably due to the presence of almost 700 queen wasps inside, Birkett said.
Wasps fall into two general categories, social wasps that build nests and solitary wasps that do not.
The kinds of nests constructed vary depending on species and where they are built.
Wasps can attack and sting humans if disturbed.
Birkett says the danger is real, especially with larger numbers of wasps, and it could have been "extremely dangerous" had the residents of the Winchester house attempted to get rid of the nest by themselves.
Not that the women owner had any thought of doing so, he said.
"The client was terrified," he says.