Wasps that Will Not Die

Forget Freddie. There are these little critters under the oak tree in our front yard that put him to shame.

I first made their acquaintance a couple of years ago when a handyman who was working on the breezeway started running about, waving his arms and yelling like a crazy guy.

Yellow jackets. They had burrowed under the root of the tree next to the breezeway, and when he disturbed their nest they let him have it.

We sprayed the nest and forgot about the little monsters.

Imagine my surprise – make that horror – when I dug into the ground under the tree to plant some ferns on Thursday morning – and got swarmed. My hands, my neck, my poor tummy… they hit me everywhere.

I returned fire with Raid and the garden hose, but all that did was make them madder. They nailed me while I was spraying them – one on the chin and the other under my ear.

And it hurt!

Nothing eased the pain. Not ice. Not vinegar. Not anti-itch cream. Not Tylenol. I managed to get to sleep Thursday night by taking two night-time Comtrex tablets.

Friday I had golf (yes with my hands swollen like two party balloons… not surprisingly, I shot 97). But Saturday bright and early I went to Publix and bought a can of Raid wasp killer. “Kills the whole nest,” it proclaimed on the label.

Well, it didn’t kill the nest. And it certainly did not kill the wasps. Perhaps I needed to get closer when I sprayed? I decided t try again on Sunday.

Cunningly, I waited until dusk to launch the next counter-attack. In my experience, Jamaican wasps don’t sting at night.

But these are not Jamaican wasps. They blitzed me again while I was spraying. One little guy chased me all over the yard.

I decided to run through the palmettos, thinking the fronds would brush him away. But all that did was trip me up and send me head over heels onto the grass – with him buzzing menacingly around my ears.

It gets worse. I was wearing flip-flops. You ever try to run in flip-flops? You ever try to scramble to your feet in flip-flops while a killer wasp was buzzing around your head?

I kicked off the flip-flops and managed to get to my knees and then to my feet, which were already churning like Usain Bolt’s.

I made it to the house, with Sandra wondering what on earth was going on. She had admonished me against retaliating for the wasp attack, and had already left a message on Joe the Bug Man’s answering machine. Let a professional handle it, she had advised.

I should’ve listened to her, but do I know what’s good for me? I’m sure you know the answer.

To my amazement, the wasp followed me into the house and lit on my head, hitting me on my hand when I swatted him. His stinger even caught my finger when I picked up his little corpse to throw it in the trash.

Then I discovered I wasn’t wearing my glasses. By now it was dark, so I got a flashlight and went to look for them at the spot where I fell. Naturally, with my luck, I stepped on them and broke the lens – the same lens I had just replaced after sitting on my glasses on the bed (it cost me $80).

I should have listened to Sandra when she pleaded with me to wait for Joe the Bug Man. But I did not. I decided on the nuclear option.

First thing this morning I got some old newspapers,  set them afire and threw them on the nest. The flames leaped up, the mulch and dead fern roots caught fire… It was quite impressive.

Sandra was convinced I had gone over the edge and was trying to burn down the house. She kept yelling at me to put out the fire, and I did – but not until after the nest had burned for an hour. When I turned the garden hose on the underground blaze, massive plumes of smoke billowed over the yard – with the devil wasps flying about in the smoke trying to zero in on my head.

Fortunately, Joe the Bug Man called just about then. He came to our rescue with his professional poison and his expertise. After spraying the nest thoroughly, he got a shovel and rooted the whole thing out … big gray clumps of eggs and dirt. Then he sprayed the eggs again.

We put the mess in a garbage bag and threw it in our dumpster.

So that’s the end of the wasps, right?

Are you kidding? They’re still out there, buzzing around the breezeway, waiting for me to show my face…

Joe promised to come back tomorrow. But I doubt anyone can kill those wasps. They’re the wasps from Hell.