As long time readers might recall, there have been a fair number of epic battles on the farm to date, include the Winged Ant Situation of 2011, the Aphid Wars of 2012, and the Great Horsefly Annoyance of 2013. And in the 8 years we’ve lived here, I’ve never had to bring in professional reinforcements. Until now.
It all started on a bright sunny day. A little too hot, but I wasn’t complaining – the heat is good for the corn. As I watered the grapes, I felt something crawling on my hand. Being the seasoned farm mama that I am, I just nonchalantly tried to shake it off without actually checking what it was. That’s when the burning started. And the screaming. The yellow jacket clinging to my palm didn’t give up until I scraped him off with the garden hose. Lucky for me, Gene knew how to make a poultice out of meat tenderizer that sucked all the venom out of my hand, and kept my whining to a minimum.
The next morning, I was out watering again since the temps were going to soar to almost 100 degrees. I wasn’t all that worried since yellow jackets aren’t exactly rare beasties in July, so it wasn’t so surprising I’d disturbed one. But when I watered the grapes again, this time I heard a most disconcertingly loud buzzing sound from the other side of the raised bed. When I slowly peered over the top of the grapevines, I was horrified to see the entire ground moving. It looked like a scene out of The Swarm – no exaggeration. There were hundreds of them, all staring at me. At least, I assume they were staring at me. I was too busy running away to notice.
Thank god for Google – I was able to find a wasp removal expert within minutes. I called the number, and he agreed to come out within the hour. I think my screaming “Save me from the beeeeeeees” the minute he answered the phone probably contributed to his sense of urgency. It was fascinating to watch him suit up and go to work, armed with an industrial sized Shop-Vac and a steely determination. I was going to contribute to the carnage by bellowing, “This time it’s personal, die wasps die!” but my words wouldn’t have had much impact considering I was hiding behind our truck the entire time.
Turns out there was a fairly substantial nest, complete with disgusting larvae, buried underneath the grapes. After taking the nest out and destroying it, he unsuited, then went back to vacuum up the stragglers. When I asked him why he wasn’t afraid of getting stung, he told me that killing off all the guards “demoralized” the rest, so they didn’t even try to defend themselves. Apparently my “get it off me” dance was just adding to the wasp’s self esteem, and that’s why I got stung so many times. Today I only saw a lonely yellow jackets buzzing around, and I made sure to let them know I’ve got the bee guy on speed dial.