Location: Oregon, United States

Monday, September 10, 2012



Last year, we had a wasp adventure.  We had planned to have one of our regular game/theme dinner days with The Pokemon Bunch.  The group arrived, and we set about getting all the last minute food prep completed.  I went outside to fire up the grill when Stephen came to me with a worried expression on his face (he wins the prize for best worried expression - he may have been a Sharpei in a previous incarnation).  He says, "Mom, the wasps are coming in through the wall in the dining room".  I downplay his panic, as he tends to worry, and we had just talked about the wasps this morning (they have been living between the walls and we could hear them moving around in there) and came up with a plan to get rid of them.  "No, it's okay, your dad just left the door open and a few got in". (With intensity):  "No, mom, they are coming in.  They ate a hole through the wall.". "Dude, you're panicking.  They didn't eat a hole.  It's going to be okay.". (With more intensity):  "No, mom, it isn't.  You have to come and see".  So I relent.

We go into the dining room and he points to where the ceiling meets the wall.  There is a small black spot there about the size of an eraser on top of a pencil.  And there are wasps coming out of the hole.  Okay, fine, so he was right.  I tell him so, and assure him that I can take care of this.  I think to myself, "Self, this is not a problem.  We have caulk, and a small dab of it will fill the hole until we can really deal with it.". I get the caulk, trim the end, ensure it is working, and get up on a chair to do the deed.

Side note:  It is 95 and sunny outside, and we are fully acclimated Oregonians, so we are sure we are going to die from the heat.  I have adapted by wearing a loose, light dress.  It seemed like a good idea at the time...

I put the caulk gun up to the hole, and get ready to plug the hole.  But when I touch the tip of the tube to the hole, ever so lightly, I punch through it as though the entire area were tissue paper and I suddenly have a two inch hole and a swarm of angry, threatened wasps.  I jump off the chair, yelling and tossing the caulk gun on the table.  I run for the door.  I hear Kyle yell, "Hannah!  Get to the basement NOW!". I remember she is allergic to bees.  I have a wasp stuck to my left hand that I try to shake off.  He won't move.  Maybe my muscle has contracted and it's stuck.  I run, then stop but there are wasps after me so I run some more, flailing my arms and trying not to scream.  I am stung on my neck.  I swish at the stung area and run some more.  I try to get the wasp off my hand.  He is still stuck.  I realize I'm being stung on my stomach.  I assume the wasp is under my dress and frantically lift it over my belly to scoop any wasps out.  I realize my underwear is sea foam green, which doesn't complement my chambray dress.  I don't care.  (You know how the cheesy horror movies always have girls screaming and running around in their underwear?  This suddenly made a whole lot of sense...)  The wasp is still on my hand and I'm still being pursued so I run further around the house (with my dress back down). I'm not running far, just fast and in spurts, so now I'm in the front of my house.  I have lost the chasing wasps and stop to think about how to get the one out of my hand.  It is struggling.  I don't want to pull it out with my fingers, because that doesn't seem like a great idea. In hindsight, I'm thinking 'why?, he already stung the heck out of you and probably has no venom left.  If he's been on that long, his stinger is well embedded, so it's not like you'll be any better off.  And admit it, part of you wants to kill it.'.  But at the time, the best thing I could come up with was to scrape it off with a brick and run.  So I grabbed a brick, scraped it off, and ran back into the house.

Here, people are standing around figuring out what to do.  Paul and Travis are working together to figure out how to block the hole and there are several observer/commentators.  The wasps are busy moving their young out of the nest, flying away with the pupae in their grasp.  One falls on the dining room table.  Normally, I would think this is cool, but right now, I am disgusted.  It is a large maggot as far as I'm concerned.  And it is on my table.  And we're supposed to be having a pot luck.  Paul and Travis have decided to stick a wad of cloth in the hole and tape it there to stem the flow of wasps.  Paul holds the cloth in place.  At the last minute, he decides to take the cloth away and just put the tape there.  This was a huge mistake, as he punched the hole out again in the process and now it is at least four inches wide.  Instead off 150 wasps, we now have 500.  Paul runs out the door and everyone else runs to the basement or outside.  When Paul gets back, he has been stung in at least five places, one on his forehead.  Ironically, he is now as mad as a hornet and wants to KILL THEM ALL.  Charles, meanwhile, has gotten a cup out of the kitchen and is quietly trapping and removing the wasps.  Charlie is looking up information on the internet and reports to us periodically with helpful hints.  Hannah recommends incense, which we light.  Thomas shows up and goes to the closet, donning a hat, ski goggles, gloves, and a coat.  I say, "Thomas, what are you doing?"  "Being awesome!", he says with pride.  Then he assists Charles with trapping and removing wasps.   William and Stephen are nowhere to be seen.

Paul randomly decides it would be a good idea to go to Lowe's and buy foam wasp killer and spray them.  Right now.  We disagree.  It is the middle of the day, which it says on the label to avoid, and we are INSIDE trying to stay alive.  I get Thomas to look up a phone number for an exterminator on the computer so the guy can back me up.  I call but get no answer.  Which means Paul wins.  He goes to the store with the welt on his forehead leading the way to get the spray.

We hunker down in the basement and wait.  Paul comes back, and we prepare for the onslaught by shoving towels under the doors and in the vents.  We sit and wait in the basement like there's going to be a tornado.  After what feels like too long, we start to pace and wonder what is happening with Paul.  We don't hear screaming, and he hasn't run out of the house yet.  I go out the back door and peek in the dining room to see what he's up to.  There is foamy goo sliding down the dining room wall.  It is not filling up the hole to the nest, and wasps are falling out regularly.  At least they are not flying around.  Paul is standing there, watching them drop, armed with the can and periodically shooting more goo in the nest, prompting another cascade of falling wasps.

Finally, they stop dropping out.  We decide to place a strong plastic barrier over the hole, so I go in the garage and cut up the lid to a plastic bin.  I place it over the hole and fasten it with packaging tape, duct tape, and more packaging tape.  It doesn't stick very well due to the oily goo, but there's nothing moving in there any more anyway.

It's supposed to be over, but Paul and I are injured and full of adrenaline.  Hannah and I haven't even started cooking yet.  I look at the clock and an hour has passed.  We are shaken but victorious, and I have a terrible headache.  We regroup and proceed with the evening, determined not to let the wasps win, periodically reliving moments, laughing at our stupidity, coming up with Code Names for one another (Paul is the Terminator, Charles is the Wasp Whisperer) and giving kudos where due while we play our various games.

The exterminator calls and tells us we did everything right.  Paul gloats in spite of his swollen forehead.  


Blogger OlyJeff said...

Just one question: How did you tell that Paul's forehead was swollen?

9:31 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Sounds like you are all OK. Whew! I had two battles with "ground bees" while repairing fences. Second time got serious - built up venom in my system I guess. Had to get medical help. I had a hard time reading your blog because it was so scary! Seriously, they can be nasty critters when I thought we could all be friends!

7:45 AM  

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