Thursday, August 5, 2010

Every morning lately there's been a brisk traffic of small yellowjackets passing in and out from under a decorative chunk of wood a few feet away from the side door.  I'd been meaning to massacre them at some point.  (I like wasps.  If I were an entomologist I would study wasps.  But some of us are territorial.)  I wanted the massacre to happen after dark, when they were all back in the nest, but I kept forgetting.

Finally, yesterday one of them gave me a remarkably painful sting on my temple, and that settled it.  (I would still have forgotten, but I went out one last time before bed to see if there were any signs of the aurora borealis lingering from the recent sunburst.  And sitting there in the night I remembered them.)

We have a can of ant poison -- probably left here by the previous owners 5 years ago -- but I figured that most deadly consumer products have a good shelf life and one insecticidal toxin is a good as another.  If it didn't work the screen door was only six feet away.

I'd confronted yellowjackets before -- spraying insecticide as best I could down into the burrow they dig.  I figured I'd tip over the wood, find the hole, spray into it, cover it with a rock and hope that discouraged enough of them.  

Well, when I tipped over the wood, up came the whole volley-ball sized hive, swarming with black and yellow wasps.  It's a good thing I waited until night because they were just surprised enough and sluggish enough to enable me give the whole thing a fatal soaking of ant poison.

There must have been 5 or 6  hundred larva on the way.  They were clearly planning on conquest.