Thursday, May 18, 2006

Wasps Nests

I mowed the lawn today. Not my favorite job, but it's a heck of a lot easier than weed-whacking a lawn.

Anyway, it finished up pretty quickly because we have more flower beds than we used to, and there's still a huge pile of dirt in the south-west corner of the yard. Luckily the weeds are holding down the dirt, otherwise it might look bad.

Where was I.... oh, it went quickly, so I figured I should do some more yard work. An hour or two every evening, and we'll be caught up in no-time.

I recalled seeing a couple of wasp nests under the eaves of the house, and being the procrastinator I am, figured I'd better get to them soon, or Mary will be pissed when a swarm of them comes down and flies away with the baby. That meant tonight.

So, how does one deal with wasp nests? You can get some noxious chemical spray and spray them, but Mary is very against that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not all chemical happy, I'd rather not spray stuff everywhere if there's another alternative (that doesn't take forever). But if your partner feels strongly about something, and you don't, you're best to go with the flow. So no chemical for me. Oh, and another reason not to do use the spray: I didn't have any and am far to lazy to hop in a car and go get some.

The question was, how do I get the wasp nest I saw in the eaves 20' up in the air? See, that's why the spray was attractive - because it shot out of the can up to 20'. Problem solved.

Only no spray.

Well, you can knock the wasps' nest off the eaves. So find a stick. Luckily, I've got some 8' poles that we use for the deer fence around the garden.

So I get one and start looking for nests. Guess how many we have?

Go on, guess!

Lame - you could at least have played along. We had at least 2 dozen. Seriously. Now, 6-8 of them were just starts, no bigger than a wasp really. And those were almost all in one spot, so they went quickly. The next dozen were a little larger, the size of a ping-pong ball. The tiny ones were no big deal, and the lime-sized ones didn't bother me too much, but they actually made noise when falling down the side of the house. The noise was kind of like tissue paper bouncing down stairs.

Then I saw the big one, it's not as large as the one I knocked off two years ago (that was the size of a good-sized pancake with a few pints of strawberries on top). No, not that big, but it was the size of my fist. And when I attacked the pancake one, it was winter and I told myself that they were all hibernating or something. This is spring, and they're all feeding off our flower beds.

Eh? Feeding off the flower beds? Permit me a digression. When you're dealing with wasps, you quickly realize there are a bunch of different kinds. I figured that I was battling the flesh-eating death wasp from Peru, but it turns out it's likely just a black and yellow mud dauber wasp. Turns out, love eating spiders, and we have about a hundred spider egg pouches along the eaves. And every resource I found about them quickly pointed out that they are docile wasps, very rarely stinging people (or any animals). So, I wasn't dealing with nests of hoards of suicidal attack insects, but nests of single, pansy, wasps that build their hives out of mud. Back to the story.

But I didn't know that, I was sure they were going to come after me like some cartoon, only I had no lake to jump in.

So I poke at the large nest a couple of times, and it falls onto our porch - where I leave it for Mary to admire when she gets home. That and because I'm afraid that the baby wasps are waiting for me to get close, at which time they jump out and eat me. That nest had 2 layers of honeycomb, which I thought was way cool.

This only left the nests at the peak in the back yard. I wasn't tall enough. Even with my arms extended, the 8' pole, and my huge vertical leap (12" at least), I was still several feet short of getting to the nests way up high. And these were the size of small lemons.

Of course at my Portland house, I had a kick-ass ladder. I got the one that would reach any of the gutters, so it extended to 22'. Not only that, but it was rated to hold more than my weight, it was spec'ed to hold 300 pounds. I left it in Portland at my dad's place.

So I'm left with only a 6' ladder, which means that I can just barely reach the nests. The first one is low enough that I don't have to stand directly under it. I poke a couple of times, it comes down quickly. I look down and two wasps crawl out of it and sit there a little dazed. Dunno, perhaps they were interrupted in the middle of hanky-panky. That freaked me out a little, because I was going to have to get under the highest two and basically let them fall straight at me.

I knock off another "low" one and psych myself up for the last two. I poke at the smaller (ping-pong ball sized), see it fall, and not so quickly lumber down the ladder and run away. I'm pretty sure the nest hit the ground before I was even at the last rung of the ladder, but I still ran. Then the momma of them, an orange-sized nest directly above my head.

You would think I was building to a big climax or something,
but you'd be wrong.

The last one came down like the rest, but I didn't watch. I just grabbed the ladder and waddled off like the scaredy-cat I am.

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