One fresh August morning, I thought I’d get some air and sunshine into the place. I raised shades and opened windows in every room. In the bedroom, there is one we rarely open. The shade stays down and if we want a breeze, we use the adjacent window.
But as this was a day for sunshine, I yanked on the shade to retract it on its roller. And was immediately taken aback in horror. Attached between the inner window pane and the outer storm window was a wasp nest the size of a tangerine. Not quite an orange, not a clementine, but — you know — a tangerine . . . but not quite as sweet.
Once I realized they had no access to the inside of the house, I stood perplexed. It was like one of those bee hives you can watch from the safety of a glass pane. Except I don’t want one of those in my house, and these things weren’t making honey. They were making a home and they intended to stay.
I walked outside to view it from another perspective. I posted it on Facebook, hoping for sage advice. I texted friends. I called my brother, who was on his way out of town. Unfortunately, he said, he was not close enough to help. I talked him through it, but he had little to offer.
My Facebook friends replied with everything from, “Walk back and forth muttering, ‘Tut, tut, it looks like rain’,” adding “It worked for Winnie the Pooh” to “Run!” My text query produced the response, “Call an exterminator.”
There are a few things you should know about me if you don’t already. I’m frugal. I’m not going to pay someone to do something I can do myself. I’m independent. I’m not going to rely on a man for something that doesn’t involve brawn or . . . well . . . anything else I don’t have. I’m resourceful. If there’s a will, there’s a way, and I definitely had a will to get rid of this thing and all its little inhabitants.
My new outdoor perspective unveiled no answers. I couldn’t see how they got in, nor could I see a way to launch an anti-wasp assault weapon at the nest. As far as I could tell, the only access to the nest was from the inside. I walked back inside and strategized.
The only safe way I knew to kill a nest was to shoot it with wasp and hornet spray. The only access to the nest was to open the window. In order to keep them out of the room when I opened the window, I was going to have to seal it off.
I sealed the window with painter’s tape and lightweight plastic.
Releasing a couple of inches of tape at the bottom, I used a pole to push the window up, pulled the pole out, and quickly resealed the tape.
Now, did I mention it was a very windy day? No sooner did I raise the window, but a gust of wind came and puffed my plastic like a balloon! I could hear the tape straining, then the wind sucked the plastic out as if taking a bigger breath, and blew against the plastic again. I’d like to say I watched confidently chanting, “Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.” But it was more like “Oh my God . . . oh my God . . . oh my God!”
Because all the movement had agitated my little stinger-friends, they took to head-banging themselves against the plastic with fury.
Plan B was forming in my head, and it went like this:
- Close the bedroom door.
- Call the exterminator.
But the tape held, and the wasps calmed.
I released the corner of the sealed plastic, as far from the nest as possible (we’re talking maybe 18 inches, tops). Aiming as carefully as I could through the semi-opaque plastic, I deployed my weapon of mass destruction. Once. Twice. Then quickly pushed the tape back down against the frame.
Part of being strategic is being able to add tactics as they become necessary.
When pushing the tape to the window frame proved unproductive, I realized the wet spray toxin had rendered it un-sticky. Hastily, I dispatched more tape to the corner, while wasps buzzed, drunkenly defending what they mistakenly assumed was their turf.
It’s a cruel death, really. As pollinators, I appreciate them. As tenants, I do not, and alas they had to go.
After a reassuring period of time passed, the plastic, tape, and finally wasps were removed. I found their access, and closed the gap.
Only one live wasp returned, probably coming back to his rampaged home to discover his loved ones had perished in a savage attack. Yes, I imagine bugs think like this, and it makes my life traumatic sometimes — when I do these little things one must do to secure one’s home from pests.
Anyway, it was a mercy killing. One swift and final blow with a fly swatter brought the last one to his fate.
That afternoon — I’m sure it was karma — three wasps came in through the back door. After my earlier adventure, I felt all-powerful. Fearless, even. Swat! . . . Swat! Kill, kill . . . KILL!
I tweeted, “Call me Jean, Wasp Warrior Princess of the North.”
Peace . . .