Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yellowjacket Hell

That was our front porch for the past couple of weeks. We've had this old chair sitting out there, which should have been dumped years ago, but Mrs Death has always enjoyed sitting in it when going out to have a smoke. Several days back, she sat down, and a couple of very rude yellowjackets came round and stung her on the arm. I took a look at the chair, and sure enough, a horde of the little bastards had made a nest underneath it. I hit the nest with some Raid, but that was only sufficient to kill a handful; the rest of them got riled. Four stings on the leg for me.

So I let them be for a time, but the nest got bigger and bigger, and after a time, the porch pretty much no longer belonged to us.

Last night, we hosted a surprise party at our place for Sir William Bill Trotter, so I made up my mind to wage all-out war on the interlopers before our guests arrived.

Phase 1: Removing the Nest
I have to get dangerously close to the nest to loop a long cord around the legs of the chair, and several buzz by on a recon mission, but I just smile and wave, allaying their suspicions. "Stupid human would not have audacity to meddle in yellowjacket affairs," and all that. Guess what, rabble.

Giving myself a good twenty feet of slack, I go out into the yard and began pulling. I drag that chair clean off the porch and into the yard, and now the horde is all abuzz, zooming here and there, creating one helluva dark cloud over the chair. I tug that chair to the edge of the yard, now having to dodge the occasional angry scout.

Phase 2: The Garden Hose
With the chair and the main part of the nest now a good fifty feet from the house, I hit the nest with a high-pressure stream, which in no time dislodges it from the chair and stirs up yet another cloud of critters, which soon cover up the whole sky. I'm about thirty feet from the chair, but one of the fuckers finds me and zaps me on the shin. An ugly war wound.

After about ten minutes, the chair is a sopping mess but appears critter-free. Now I return my attention to the front porch, which is alive with the things, and I realize there was a second nest (or perhaps an outpost of the first) in a big cardboard box that had been behind the chair. I turn the water on the box for a full half hour and watch streams of dead and dying yellowjackets gushing over the edge of the porch into the shrubs. But the main cloud shows little sign of thinning, and I realize that, in order to turn off the water, I must get within ten feet of the furious horde.

I make a fast dash to the spigot, then a quantum leap back out to the yard. No stings this time.

Phase 3: First Raid!
For good measure, I bring out the bug spray and hit the chair, which actually still contains quite a few very angry vescula squamosas. Five minutes later, there appears to be nothing left alive. However, there are still plenty crawling around the devastated nest on the ground — which is now surrounded by thousands of larva that have fallen out of it. Ants are carrying away larva by the score, and though I'm tempted to let them have their way, I'm taking no chances. A few good barrages of Raid, and this corner of battlefield is a graveyard: nothing, absolutely nothing is left alive.

Phase 4: Second Raid!
The porch remains abuzz for another four hours. With guests on the way, I know it will be bad news if they come to the front door, so I put up a sign directing them around back. Then, as the sun begins to set, the yellowjackets retreat into the drenched but evidently still functional box. Let no mortal combat interfere with the regularly scheduled beauty sleep!

WIth the garden claw, I open up the top of the box and am stunned — STUNNED, I tell you — to see that THOUSANDS of the enemy still survive, and are arranged in the most beautiful, symmetrical rows in the bottom of the box. Their numbers make my heart tremble, for if they should suddenly converge on me...

But no...they're right where I want them.

I close the box except for one corner, which I bend upward to create an opening. Then, through it, I apply a constant stream of Raid until the can is almost empty. A few of the beasts come buzzing out and attack the porchlight, making themselves relatively easy targets for the remaining spray. They weave in the air and then plummet. Others stagger out of the box and keel over, and as more and more of them pile up on the porch, the floor becomes a vast, mass yellowjacket grave. This is a grim but awe-inspiring sight.

Within ten minutes, no sign of life remains.

Later, a few solitary survivors zoom around the house in confusion. Before bedtime, I take a final look at the porch.

It is done.

The Aftermath
This morning, I take a look into the box. It's loaded with corpses, and thousands of them litter the floor. The chair is removed to the street, where it will be picked up with the trash this week.

But now I am hearing a constant buzzing, somewhere in the distance. I'm not sure I like the suggestion of airborne shapes that flicker past my window or even through the living room. I've seen a couple of wasps watching me suspiciously, as if aware that I might have had something to do with the wanton destruction of a number of their distant kin. Now and again, I feel the creepy-crawlies, as if something is walking around the back of my neck.

If something happens to me, I want you to know I only did what I had to. It was a righteous battle, and I regret nothing.

I fear I must soon visit WalMart to buy more Raid.

Yes. I must have more.

1 comment:

William Jones said...

Try "canned air." Yeah, it sounds silly. It's the stuff used to clean computer keyboards. Shake it until it is cold, then freeze the critters. As you know, they are inactive when cold. Then drown them with Raid.

I have a problem with them at my place. But in Michigan, even in the middle of summer, we can hope for a very cold night. So I attack them in the early morning while they can't move - still chilled from the night.