Confidence And Wasps

It’s hot out today, and what was supposed to be a short trip to fetch something out of the garage turned into a half-hour long sweaty battle between me and a whole bunch of angry wasps.

That’s not normally something I’d mention on this blog, but after the insects finally coordinated and got the upper hand and I fled indoors to cool down in front of the fan, it occurred to me that standing outside and chasing wasps down with a garden hose is something that the old me would have never done before. Never.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been nervous around bees, wasps, hornets, yellowjackets… pretty much anything that has yellow and black stripes on its butt. I’m not allergic – I’ve been stung quite a few times over the years and while it’s annoying (and painful), I’m lucky to not need to worry about being in any mortal danger. But still, they made me nervous.

It took quite a lot of time (and many exasperatedly hissed “QUIT WAVING AROUND” warnings over the years from Dad) but by the time I was in my mid-teens I was finally able to see a bee without running around, windmilling my arms. Most animals don’t bother me, although some of the highest speeds I’ve ever made on foot were whilst running from an angry Canada goose and an angry badger. But wasps… they’re different. I’m not sure why. Could be that I can’t relate to how they think. And there’s never only one of them. With a goose, you know when it’s time to run. Badgers require no thought – just run.

With bees or wasps, though (especially wasps), I often find that I have no idea what I’ve done to rile them up. Yes, I realize I’ve gotten too close to their nest/hive/whatever, but I usually can’t see it, so I don’t know which way to go to fix the problem. Plus, it always seems like there aren’t any around, then I see one on my arm (which makes me nervous), and then it takes off again and joins the swarm that I then notice is buzzing and diving at me.

A year or so after J and I moved into our first house, wasps built a large nest hanging under the deck in the back yard. I set up a little zapper in front of the hole to hopefully take care of the problem, but once they realized the zapper wasn’t friendly, they attacked it in such numbers that the zapper wasn’t zapping them anymore. Next up was one of those wasp killing foam sprays that’s guaranteed to shoot 15 feet or whatever. I soaked that thing down until it was a giant marshmallow, then ran back inside. It killed a bunch of them but once it dried up the wasps were out again and angry as ever. So I asked a neighbour if he’d be interested in working as a team to go at night and take care of the nest permanently. I had one of those white zip-up suits with the hood and goggles and all kinds of stuff so I was prepared.

He said sure, then immediately hopped over the fence wearing nothing but shorts and sandals, grabbed a garbage bag, walked up to the nest, closed the bag around it, and broke if away from the joist it had been attached to. He tied the bag shut and handed it back to me. It had taken him maybe 45 seconds to do the whole thing. I was shocked. Delighted, but shocked.

So… this whole post up until now has been to show you how much of a chicken I am when it comes to bees and wasps and insects like that. Which brings me to today.

A little while ago, I noticed the odd wasp landing on and crawling behind the conduit that holds the power line going into the house. I didn’t think too much of it – something to avoid, and something to keep an eye on. Today, though… I don’t know if it’s how dry it’s been lately, or the heat, but when I went back to the house after picking stuff up in the garage, I noticed steady traffic leaving and arriving at that conduit.

Normally I would’ve gone inside and at least waited until dusk when the wasps tend to be a little calmer, but instead I grabbed the garden hose and started knocking them off the conduit and siding and onto the ground. Oddly, the water didn’t pool on the ground, it was disappearing into a hole on the ground behind the conduit, where many, many other wasps were now crawling out of and flying around, trying to figure out what was going on. I stayed out there, spraying here and there, knocking them out of the air and forcing them into what was becoming a rather large mud puddle at my feet. I turned off the water and waited for some more to group up, then sprayed them again and again. Half an hour later, there were lots of dead and dying wasps all over the place, and the hole in the ground had finally filled up. Unfortunately, there were still lots of wasps in the air, and they’d figured out that the sprayer head was where their problem was coming from so they were attacking it en masse. I figured that it was only a matter of time before they realized there was a squishy, stingable, sweaty pink human at the end of the sprayer, so I carefully put it down and scampered into the house.

Now that I’ve written it out and I’m reading it, it’s not nearly as impressive as it felt at the time, but considering that I wasn’t running around the yard screaming, I think things went pretty well. I hadn’t planned to do any of that but I saw an opportunity and actually took advantage of it. Is it because of all the work I’ve been doing with Dr C and Dr W? I certainly would’ve handled things differently five or ten years ago, and I’m in a place now where I actually care what happens to me. Regardless of the cause, I think it’s a good thing, and I’m seeing other areas in my life where I’m feeling more confident about things, too. More on that later, though – I hadn’t planned to spend an hour writing about how I’d spent the previous half hour…

Stay safe.

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