Written by Steve McAnon, CNN

Budding great ape, naked and bewigged, walks into a school playground, caught in the glare of a flashlight.

The young woman squeals. "Stop. Stop right there!"

The predator -- yellow jacket, with pointed tail -- becomes a predator with impunity, stripping the hem of her skirt to a point.

"That's way too close!" her colleague exclaims.

Their screams -- and the startled reaction of the supervising teacher -- is hushed in the classroom of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi.

"Yellow jackets have become nocturnal pests," explains biologists from the Center for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Evolution at the institution.

Scientist Christine Wanjiru says a yellow jacket on a young female student in the Nairobi school. Credit: Courtesy Centre for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Evolution/Antonio Rosa

The feathers of yellow jackets are known to be used as false eyelashes and clothing. Credit: Courtesy Centre for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Evolution/Antonio Rosa

Known as yellow jackets or sea fleas, these nocturnal predators are a menace to people and wild animals alike in Kenya.

To attract attention from other residents, they lay a layer of feathers on sidewalks that residents can peer upon. But the same doesn't apply to humans.

The birds were discovered to lay strips of feathers on Nairobi's roads as a means of attracting humans to gather. Credit: Courtesy Centre for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Evolution/Antonio Rosa

"They will actually spend many hours loitering on our streets," explained the study's lead author -- Christine Wanjiru, an ecology professor at the institution -- at a public seminar about yellow jackets.

If one shows the feathers to others, they will believe a wild animal must be nearby and move on, she said.

What is a wild animal?

Yellow jackets are opportunistic scavengers and have been known to see themselves as scavengers. Credit: Courtesy Centre for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Evolution/Antonio Rosa

"They can get up to about two months with one specimen," said graduate student Brian Kavita, who sat alongside Wanjiru to translate for him.

They're known to hunt below the soil, for plants and fruits and other forms of vegetation. The males will have their courting partners strategically placed on the ground or rooftops. They will share food with their young in the form of spit from other birds, plants or insects, Kavita said.

Credit: Courtesy Centre for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Evolution/Antonio Rosa

Yellow jackets are opportunistic scavengers and have been known to see themselves as scavengers. Credit: Courtesy Centre for Advanced Studies in Ecology and Evolution/Antonio Rosa

On the job

Wanjiru says she often deals with displays of aggression in yellow jacket colonies. This is because some green, leafy plants pose a competitive threat to the territory of other birds.