Hello, HaQ readers! I’m going to diverge from adventures inside the house this week to tell a sad tale. A tale of the pride that goeth before a near-fall, and the failure that came of an attempt to live peaceably with some insect “friends”.
As you may have surmised, I’m a live-and-let-live sort. I do my best to let nature be natural and try to work with my environment. I haven’t used pesticides in my garden in years, I don’t mow areas of my yard that are too steep to use a mower on, and I planted wildflowers (emphasis on the wild) instead. Other than treating my pets for fleas, I don’t use pesticides in the house, either. There’s a small spider that lives in an out-of-the-way spot in my kitchen – I call her “Little Sister” and encourage her to go after the occasional housefly that shows up.
When I do need to remove pests, I try to get at it the easiest and least toxic way I can. In the garden, my favorite method is to feed birds near the plants I don’t want chewed up. Because the birds are used to foraging in the garden, when it comes time to switch from seeds to insects during nesting, they pick off the bugs to feed their babies, and then go back to sunflower seeds and suet when the kids are out of the nest. So I rarely have to spray anything, which I would rather not do because many sprays also kill beneficial insects. I know I have mantises and assasin bugs in the yard, and I’m happy to let them take over guard duty for me.
So, in my ever-so-slightly-smug and happy queendom, I was content to let a small gathering of paper wasps build their tiny home to one side of my carport door. They weren’t in the way and they ignored me. We were in Live and Let Live Land. Or so I thought. Apparently some faction of them became disenchanted with the idea that I like to actually use my side door and they started to occasionally buzz by me on my way in or out. A few times I even went around to the back door, just to avoid the air raids.
This all came to a head some days ago when I was headed out of town and had the all-mighty gall to come out the door carrying my younger cat in a travel kennel. The two dogs were already bouncing around in the back seat of the car, ready for their ride to the place they know as “overnight camp”. Trying to keep the canine mayhem to a minimum, I was in a bit of a rush. I dashed into the house and carefully got the cat into his carrier, and started out again.
The carport door lets out onto a small set of steps, so I was (of course) looking down and baring the back of my neck as I crossed the no-fly zone. I was just going from the first to the second step when I felt a ferocious searing stab at my nape. I squealed like a stuck pig and skittered down the stairs, raking at the nasty thing with my free hand, jitterbugging around with the poor cat, and just managing to stay upright. I got the wasp off me, swatted it away when it tried to come at me again, and finally got the kitty safely in the car. I had to duck and swerve to sneak myself into the front seat, where I sat for a minute, panting and swearing. (Yes – I used a bad word. More than once.)
I’m not allergic to stings, so rather than cross the path of more irate wasps to go back in the house and check the damage, I drove to the boarding kennel while my neck throbbed. Once the kids were safely at “camp”, I straightened myself out and marched into a nearby grocery store for supplies. These included a tube of antihistamine cream and a large can of wasp killer (and half-sized container of white wine for later in the evening, but who’s counting?)
When Live-and-Let-Live becomes I’m-Going-To-Stab-You, it’s necessary to take drastic measures. It’s one thing when they come after me; quite another when they endanger my pets. Doing both at once gets me seriously riled. I got home and fired about half that can of spray in a direct hit on the now-offending nest. I felt a little bad but … End game. Sorry, wasps, you broke the compact.
Now the wasps are gone and I spent over week dealing with an achy, swollen knot on the back of my neck. I still have a little bit of a lump in my throat; I really don’t like using pesticides. I’d rather avoid interaction than spray poison, but letting the first wasps stay too close to my door sealed the fate of the rest of them. I probably should have used the water hose to knock down the nest when it first appeared. It wouldn’t have killed the wasps and they would have moved on. Because I let them stay where they got numerous enough to become pests and then dangerous, it led to their demise. Sometimes live and let live becomes live and learn. The exception that proves the rule is what reminds you why you follow them.
Stay tuned for more on the Here’s a Quarter blog next week! As always, your thoughts and comments are always welcome – they are moderated (I know – adulting again), so they may take a little while to appear, but I read them all and appreciate that you were here. Thank you!