Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wasp wars

Photo from here

I was mowing the lawn yesterday when I discovered a nest of yellowjackets. And when I say "discovered," I mean I ran over their nest with the lawnmower. For those not familiar, yellowjacket wasps are small, aggressive predators that live in large colonies and like to bite the heads off of bees for fun. They also seem to really like Mountain Dew, so they are the scourge of southern parks.  Their nests are typically underground, with a couple of entrance holes about 2 cm (~3/4 in.) across.

I have played yellowjackets and lawn mower before, so I reacted pretty quickly* and only got one sting. Unfortunately, the little bitch got me right in the back of my knee. How do they know? Except for maybe my eyelids and personals, I can't think of a more tender spot.

I consider myself somewhat of a nature lover, and I value the diversity of life, even in the suburbs. We never spray insecticide around the house, and I don't use chemicals on the lawn, if I can avoid it. Heck, we even humanely trap itinerant mice and haul them off to the woods, where they can be eaten by snakes and owls as God intended. But my ancestors didn't claw their way to the top of the food chain for me to have to avoid parts of my yard. And I don't negotiate with terrorists.  So poison ivy gets the Roundup treatment when it pops up, and I keep a can or two of Wasp and Hornet spray handy for occasions like this one.

I stripped to the waist, painted myself blue, and staged a series of lightning raids, wielding my Black Flag like a flamethrower, eventually obscuring the entrance to the nest completely with insecticide foam.** Little wasps were dropping like, um, flies. Oh, the horror! We're a frightening species when the blood lust is upon us, and especially dangerous when injured, I hear. Or is it cornered? Maybe that's tigers.

This morning I went back to dig up the nest, eliminating any survivors. The last thing I need is witnesses. Also, I made the mistake once of thinking a nest was dead after an initial assault, only to have the little buggers having at me again in a few days. Much to my surprise (and relief), it looks like an armadillo beat me to the punch. I hope the little guy didn't get too much of a buzz from the spray. Then again, armadillos aren't my favorite critters, either. They carry leprosy, and dig big holes in the yard.

Fortunately, I'm not allergic. But I guess I had never been stung in a major joint before. After about two hours, my entire knee stiffened up, and it got very difficult to straighten my leg. Also, the sting burned like a lit cigar. It's a little better today, but the soreness helps me justify my killing spree yesterday. Still, if the Hindus are right about this reincarnation thing, I'm going to be in a world of hurt.

* I find the most effective strategy to be running like Jerry Lewis, flailing one's arms in a windmill pattern, and screaming like a little girl.

** Not a bad name for a band.


  1. Is it wrong to laugh at the misfortune of others? I'd totally buy tickets to see you run like Jerry Lewis...

    We were just discussing armadillos this morning and their unfortunate habit of jumping, thus effectively ensuring sudden death by car..."I've got a super-power!" "What?" "I can JUMP!"

    (Sorry about the knee-- ice and elevate).

  2. You remind me of a nasty time when I drove my car repeatedly over an underground wasps nest as I failed miserably to park the car. The entire nest attacked me when I got out of the car, unaware of what I'd done. After emergency treatment, I poured petrol into the entrance, followed by a lighted match. Vengeance was sweet.

    They had the last laugh though - I'm allergic to wasp stings now.

  3. @Wonder: When I lived in Texas, people used to say that armadillos are born dead on the side of the road. (Just one of the reasons I don't live in Texas anymore)

    Pueblo: They always seem to get revenge, don't they? One of our problems here is fire ants, which swarm and bite on signal. I know people who have gotten ambulance rides from getting hundreds of bites in a few seconds.

  4. total buzzkill, man...

  5. 1. Hate yellowjackets.

    2. Watched Timecrimes...dude, that was awful. AWFUL. I wanted to bitchslap all three Hectors. All three. I hated Hector enough to hate the movie. Eurotard is right.

    3. Did you by any chance watch the short film "7:35 in the morning" on the DVD extras? Because THAT was brilliant. BRILLIANT.

  6. @daisyfae: LOL. That's right. Now look what you've done.

    @rassles: High praise, coming from you. My favorite part of Timecrimes was when Hector 2 (who already knew the situation) saw Hector 1 and said, "What's that guy doing with my wife?" That, and the way that all the nudity was simultaneously completely gratuitous and absolutely essential to the plot. Didn't watch the extras. Couldn't get the DVD out of the player fast enough after the movie.

  7. "Take off your pants. Don't worry, just trust me. I'm just going to shove you down a hill and then off my roof and expose your breasts to YesterMe because only a naked laday could get me off my ass."

  8. And I have to make you do it because I already saw you doing it. Brilliant! Brilliant, I say. I guess the moral of the story is, if you're riding your bicycle and some man crashes his tiny car into the woods, just keep going.