Fact check: False claim of Florida veteran being fined by HOA for torching wasp nest

The claim: A Florida veteran was fined by HOA for torching a wasp nest with a flamethrower drone

A viral meme recently shared to Facebook claims a man took a drastic approach to fighting off wasps. 

“Florida veteran fined by HOA for torching wasps nest with flamethrower drone he named after ex-wife,” reads a March 4 post with almost 200 shares and over 558 reactions. 

Below the text is an image of a flying flamethrower destroying a wasp nest that is resting on the branches of a tree. The meme was shared to the Facebook group “A Page Specifically For Gun Memes and Cursed Gun Images 3.0.”

The same photo appears on various meme sites such as iFunny.co and Americasbestpics.com, where it likely originated. 

USA TODAY reached out to the user for comment. 

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Image is from rescue team in China killing wasp nests

The photo included in the post is authentic, however, it originates from December 2020, when emergency responders converted a drone into a flying flamethrower as part of a campaign to destroy over 100 wasp nests.

A volunteer group that conducts search-and-rescue work, Blue Sky Rescue, teamed up with villagers in Zhong County near Chongqing to raise $12,200 to purchase a drone and equip it with a gasoline tank and an arm-length nozzle, according to the Associated Press. 

The image in the post was taken from a video by Blue Sky Rescue that shows one of the missions where the flame-throwing drone hovers over a hive that is as large as a suitcase, the Associated Press reported. 

A local news app run by state-owned Chongqing TV reported the surrounding residents cheered and praised the rescue team as ashes of the wasp nest gradually peeled off and fell.

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No evidence Florida veteran torched wasp nests

The image used in the post was taken in China, and there are no reports of a Florida veteran being fined by a homeowners association for torching a wasp nest with a flamethrower drone. 

On Jan. 10, 2017, a Florida man did film himself taking out a wasp nest with his bare hands, according to United Press International. 

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In the video, the man is seen squashing the insects with his hands while avoiding their stingers. He told UPI that he had been killing wasps with his bare hands for over 20 years and has never gotten stung.

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Our rating: False    

The claim that a Florida veteran was fined by HOA for destroying a wasp nest with a flamethrower drone he named after his ex-wife is FALSE, based on our research. There is no evidence that this ever happened and the image included in the post is from a campaign in central China to kill over 100 wasp nests. 

Our fact-check sources: 

  • Associated Press, Dec. 12, 2020, “Flamethrower drone incinerates wasp nests in China”
  • South China Morning Post YouTube, Dec. 11, 2020, “Flame-throwing drone burns wasp nests in tall trees in China” 
  • United Press International, Jan. 18, 2017, “Florida man destroys nest full of wasps with his bare hands”
  • YouTube, Jan. 15, 2017, “Killing Wasps the Old Fashioned Way II ViralHog “

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