After waging a three-room battle with a wasp and narrowly avoiding getting myself stung, I decided it was time to call in a paid mercenary.
More accurately, I decided to call the mercenary a few hours later, when two wasps were literally bouncing against our kitchen window, trying to find a way in. With still more wasps hanging around both the front door and the kitchen door, I was starting to feel like a character from “Night of the Living Dead,” afraid to leave my own house.
As a fan of King of the Hill, I immediately searched the phone book for a service named Dale’s Dead Bug, but ended up settling on A-1 Exterminators. I was half-expecting the guy who answered the phone to listen to my story and then beg off with something like “Sorry. I don’t mind spraying itty-bitty termites and ants, but only an idiot goes looking for a wasp nest.” But nope; he just asked a few relevant questions:
“How many stories is the house?”
“You got an attic I can get into from inside?”
“Okay, I’ll want to spray the outside first, then set off a bug bomb up there. That’s probably where the nest is. Now, are these black wasps or red wasps?”
“Most of them have been black, but I had a real battle with a red one a couple of hours ago.”
“That’s not surprising. The black ones are a bit more docile. But the red ones, hell, they’re aggressive little suckers. They’ll spot you 20 yards away, decide they don’t like you, and go after you.”
“The red one did seem exceptionally hard to kill.”
“Uh-huh. They can be.”
“I take it you have some kind of sting-proof suit.”
“No sir, I don’t, but I haven’t been stung in seven years.”
At this point, I was expecting him to show up bearing an eerie resemblance to Sergeant Barnes from Platoon. But when he arrived the next day, he was just a regular guy with an irregularly large canister of insecticide. He worked his way around the outside of the house, spraying high and spraying low, then came inside and climbed up the attic, bug bomb in hand. He’d already warned us we’d have to leave the house for an hour.
I couldn’t believe he was voluntarily approaching a wasp nest while clad in jeans and a tee-shirt. I would’ve been covered in Kevlar. I started wondering what I’d do if he suddenly screamed bloody murder up there. Dash into a hail of stingers to save a fellow human being? Slam the attic door shut and call 9-1-1? Ditch his truck somewhere and pretend I’d never met him?
Fortunately, he emerged un-stung. Standing by the curb before leaving, he told us the wasps would probably attempt to return to their nests several times. Some would die for the effort, and some would get the hint and go away for good.
How right he was. Later in the day, as I was peeking through the window in the front door, I noticed a wasp tail sticking out from the base of a lamp that hangs from the front-porch awning. The tail was moving. The wasp was alive.
I grabbed the rifle-shot can of RAID and slowly opened the front door, took aim, then realized the colorful plastic leaves that decorate the door sill were obstructing my line of fire. I had to crouch halfway to the floor to aim up from under the leaves. I squirted the RAID, missed to the right, then guided the stream into the base of the lamp. Then I slammed the door shut.
Two wasps squeezed out of the base immediately and flew away. Then two more squeezed out and flew away. Then a fifth wasp squeezed out, fluttered, and fell onto the porch, where it kicked and buzzed and screamed promises to rip my larynx out. I yanked open the door, delivered a fatal shot, then slammed it shut again. I flipped the deadbolt before I had time to reflect on the action feel stupid about it.
At least five wasps had been squeezed into that little lamp base — probably illegals. The lamp base may have been their nest all along, or it may have been the only place they could they congregate after the mercenary did a shock-and-awe number on the rest of the house.
You’d think after I doused the lamp base with RAID, they’d give up once and for all. Nope. Within an hour, three of them were buzzing around it, making attempts to squeeze in, then backing away. Eventually two of them landed in the colorful fake wreath attached to the front door. Fabulous; that door swings in. Open the door, and you’ve just let wasps inside.
I observed them from my sniper’s perch until they flew back up under the awning and made another go at the lamp base. Then I creaked open the door, took aim from down low, and blasted the lamp with RAID. One wasp dropped, another flew away, and the third flew towards the crack in the door. I barely managed to avoid slamming the door on my own arm.
That all happened yesterday. Today I haven’t seen any wasps by the proch lamp or anywhere else near the house. The bug-bomb apparently caused some collateral damage, because we found dead spiders and cockroaches around the house.
I’d like to hang a big sign out front reading MISSION ACCOMPLISHED … but we all know how that could turn out.