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Killing Bugs Dead

by Dear Jon
August 4, 2009

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One month after I declared total war on mosquitos in my back yard and terminated them with extreme prejudice, new invaders began to plague the front and side of my house. These came in the form of yellow-jacket wasps and a hive of black-and-white wasps.

First of all, I want to know: Where are the birds? I see evidence of birds on my car. I don't see any evidence of birds doing what they are supposed to do, which is that they eat bugs. At least, I thought they ate bugs. That was the point of the Disney Pixar classic A Bug's Life, wasn't it? And since Pixar has been making the best movies anyone has seen since they launched with Toy Story back in 1939, bringing the innovation of "color," I trust them for how they present reality. This is why, with all these bugs invading my yard, I am considering buying a bunch of balloons so that my house can fly to South America.

It seems to me that my yard should be the favorite hopping ground for robins and cardinals and orioles and every other fair species of bug-eating bird found in this region of the country.  I would have thought that my yard was a buffet for them, with the equivalent to bird instincts of a bright pink neon sign flashing "All U Can Eat."

But maybe the Congress of Illinois Robins has declared my house a "wild-life preserve," requiring birds of all species to leave my lawn and trees to the wasps and mosquitos. Maybe robins need a special license before they eat mosquito larvae. Or maybe the robins up here are just too used to finer foods, like worms and grubs. I suppose the stinger on a wasp would be as dangerous to a bird going down the throat, as a fish bone is to a human or a dog.

In any event, I have learned a lot about wasps this year. I learned, for example, that some hornets look like wasps, and some wasps look like bees. I also learned that there is a gang of wasps called the "yellow-jackets," who basically defend their turf by killing all rivals. Only the yellow-jackets get to pimp the flowers in their neighborhood. "Yo, Drone Boy, don't you be pollenating those tulips. You fly on across the street before we kill you. In fact, never mind, we'll chase you down and kill you anyway just because you LOOKED at our tulips."

As far as I can see, in terms of WASP gangs there are only two that are worse than the yellow-jackets. One WASP gang is called the Hell's Angels, and the other is called the Ku Klux Klan. Unfortunately, those WASPS only get angry if you spray them with RAID: Wasp and Hornet Killer. For Hell's Angels, KKK and other WASP gangs invading your home, I suggest large quantities of pepper spray and bullets.

Yellow-jackets look like bees because, like many bees, yellow-jackets wear jackets that are yellow. You can identify the gang by their skull tattoos and the signals they flash at each other. Being a lower form of life only a few rungs up the ladder from American Nazis, the Yellow-jackets have only one signal which means one thing: "Let's sting that guy!"

Some wasps that are not yellow will look like those hornets which look like wasps, although no hornet looks like a bee because, as far as I know, no hornet would be caught DEAD wearing yellow. The idea! Some hornets have a distinct body shape that looks nothing at all like the shape of a wasp or a bee. These are the "beautiful people" among the hornets; the super models. They sting whatever for the pure fun of abusing their power. Other hornets have the wasp/bee shape. They hate the beautiful hornets, they hate themselves and they take out their envy at looking like stupid fat wasps, by stinging anything that moves. All hornets have the ability to go fully-automatic with their stingers.

"Hey! There's a person walking by! Let's rock and roll!"

Some people claim that settlers during frontier days used to keep hives of either wasps or hornets in their windows, to keep out mosquitos. I have a problem with this theory: I wiped out our mosquitos, and after that we began to be colonized by these other pests. So what were they eating? Plus, has anyone ever walked underneath a wasp's nest in order to enter a Cracker Barrel restaurant? No! And Cracker Barrel, just like PIXAR Studios, aims at absolute authenticity. So I don't buy it.

The difference between a hornet that looks like a wasp, and a wasp, is that a wasp builds the same kind of hive as a bee. A hornet does not go for such a quaint look (why it's just  like what they used to build in windows during pioneer days!) and prefers more of a post-mod nesting decor. (Hornets do not eat at Cracker Barrel if they have another choice. Certain Denny's stores did like to serve WASPS back in the old days of the 1990's, but I'm pretty sure that's all cleared up now.)

My wife spotted the first nest, hanging from a tree branch. It was very small, but since we were hosting young children that week at our home, I sprayed it. The stream tore the bottom out and it was empty. It was a decoy! A yellow-jackets gang had actually begun to nest under our shingles. I was mad. I knew those gangsters were laughing at me. So I did something I never ever do.

I climbed a ladder, all the way to the fifth rung! And I sprayed. Thoroughly. The directions on the various brands of wasp-and-hornet killer sprays, speak of "until nest is soaked." If by "soaked" it means the spray's run-off dripped from the eaves like rain-fall, I would say I had done a soaking. There has been no activity at that location since. I can sniff any tulip I want. Your face, yellow-jackets!

Then we discovered, a week later, a huge nest of black-and-white stinging insects, high above us on a tree.

So my wife asked, "Can we peacefully co-exist?"

She is a real card sometimes.

Don't get me wrong. Zebra Zombie Wasps or whatever scientists call them, can live wherever they want, just as long as it's one hundred miles from my house, my young daughter and her friends. Back to the hardware store I went, for spray bottles four and five on the season. Reading the directions, I waited until dusk. And then I went fully automatic. I am pretty sure, since, no police came by to check out a public disturbance, that I kept my screams of "Die You Freaking Mutants!" to myself.

The next day I learned from our friend that wasps build nests that look like bee combs. On knocking the nest down with a pole and breaking it open (after waiting over night. Always read the directions) we saw the comb inside. So these were wasps, not hornets. It would not have mattered, but for some reason there is a comfort in being able to know just what exactly I had killed.

Now where are those birds?



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Humble Correspondent from a condo writes:
August 13, 2009
Brilliant - *and* educational - sort of. I enjoyed this piece a lot! But I don't have time to look up the facts and really understand it.

In short, a masterpiece.

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