Opinion

Brotherton: Yellowjackets have turned this man into a mouse

Our prehistoric dryer had died and two gents from Tri-City Sales were delivering our sparkling new model, a GE® 7.5 cu. ft. Capacity Front Load Electric Dryer with Steam. It’s nicer than my car and bigger than my first apartment. As they approached the bulkhead stairs, they hesitated. “You’ve got a bunch of wasps flying around here,” said one. “You might want to do something about that.”

The delivery men then descended the narrow stairs, lugging this behemoth 6,000-pound dryer, flailing their arms like King Kong swatting away airplanes from atop the Empire State Building. 

“You better call an exterminator,” said my lovely wife. What a silly woman.

I went to the hardware store and bought some Raid. 

I’m not the handiest guy around, but, as most wives will attest, that seldom stops us from attempting to fix things.

So, with the sun blazing brightly and about 30 yellowjackets flying in and out of a gap in the siding near the bulkhead, I shook the can, aimed and unleashed a steady stream of poison. It aggravated them. I beat feet and ran toward the back door at Usain Bolt-like speed, evading the ornery onslaught.

I went to Google and researched “How to get rid of a yellowjacket nest.” The most important thing is to do it at dusk, after the wasps have entered the nest and turned in for the night, content to snuggle with their honeys and watch “Dateline” on their tiny TVs before falling asleep just before the verdict is revealed.

The article suggested putting Delta Dust at the entrance. The insects will get the powdered insecticide on their tiny Nike sneakers and bring it with them into the nest, where the queen and all of her minions will be collateral damage. But no one around here seems to sell the stuff.

So, I went to Plan B. I asked an expert at the hardware store — an elderly man chewing Red Man tobacco — what he would do. He suggested buying and using two aerosol cans of any spray guaranteed to kill wasps or hornets. After that, he suggested I take a can of Great Stuff foam sealant and fill in the gaps and cracks. The fumes would kill every bug inside, and none could enter or exit the hive, he said.

“But make sure you do it when it’s dark outside. A moron on my street did it during the day and ended up in the emergency room.”

So, at precisely 8 p.m., right after watching “The Great British Baking Show,” I was ready. Fearing death by sting, I covered myself from head to toe: thick socks, work boots; ski tights, sweatpants, dungarees; long sleeve tee-shirt, sweatshirt, flannel shirt, wool sweater, snorkel winter parka; glove liners, leather gloves; fleece beanie, a yarmulke from my nephew’s bar mitzvah, baseball cap; balaclava ski mask. I could barely move. It was 82 degrees outside. And then I had to go to the bathroom!

Finally ready, I grabbed a flashlight. The batteries were dead.

So, I looked toward heaven, said a prayer, kissed my wife goodbye, told her I loved her, handed her my last will and testament, and headed outside, armed with three cans of spray insecticide, two cans of Great Stuff and a partridge in a pear tree. 

I shook the cans like crazy and, kneeling near the opening, I stuck the nozzle in the gap and unleashed a steady stream of poison into the hole. About halfway through the second can, the poison started dripping to the ground. “That should be enough,” I muttered. So, I shook a can of Great Stuff and covered every inch of the area surrounding the opening. It looked like a Baked Alaska was sitting atop the bulkhead and oozing out of the siding. 

Back inside safely, I feared that I’d only aggravated the queen and her workers, and they were huddled in the hive’s war room, mapping out a strategic attack of the absurdly dressed infidel who dared target their nest. I didn’t sleep a wink all night. I kept thinking of that horrifying “Night Gallery” episode where an earwig crawled into a guy’s ear one night and couldn’t get out.

Even now, several days later, every time I walk into a room I scan the windows and lift the shades looking for wasps that might have found entry into the bedroom. A few have made it inside, stuck between the window and screen, but they seem lethargic and bored. My research revealed that wasps inside the house are often sluggish, especially if they’ve been smoking legal marijuana. “Be sure there are no M&Ms or chocolate chip cookies in the house,” advised the experts.

These yellowjackets have me unnerved. Mosquitoes are spreading the EEE virus. Sharks are gobbling up human limbs at record rates. The animal kingdom appears to be hatching a plot to eradicate the human race and save Planet Earth. None of it matters to me. I expect to return home from work some afternoon to find thousands of wasps inside the house getting a good buzz on.

I also read that yellowjackets don’t die after they sting you. They stand around a fire pit, downing shots of Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey and boasting about how they tortured the poor misguided fool in that house over yonder and aim to do it again. Since they can’t high-five, they do stinger bumps.

Creepy crawlers and vermin usually don’t faze me. There are a lot of snakes in my neighborhood. The other guys on my street are terrified by snakes; even the athletic macho men jump up and down and behave like frightened schoolgirls. The neighborhood’s snake man Bill is always willing to grab a 9-iron and a bucket, and catch and release the slithering reptiles into nearby conservation land.

But my mind is being held captive by these 2-inch yellow-and-black bullies. Bees are wonderful, but not these aggressive monsters. They can be distinguished from bees by their thin “waists,” obtained from relentless exercise at Planet Fitness judgement (sic)-free zones no doubt.

Further research indicates that yellowjacket nests are typically used for a single season. Only fertilized queens survive the winter; the rest die. In the fall, new queens and males are produced by a colony; the males mate these new queens, then the males die. The grieving newly mated queens go off on their own to find a place to spend the winter, typically Boca Raton, Fla. 

But negative thoughts keep creeping into my brain. If the house is too warm this winter, will there be survivors? Will thousands of yellowjackets return on the first 65-degree day of 2020, hellbent on revenge? 

Wait! What’s that buzzing noise? Oh, it’s just a helicopter.

It’s gonna be a long winter.

 

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