Yellow Jacket Wars

Yellow Jacket 10-07-2014_8017
Here’s the tale of our yellow jacket woes as told in email and Facebook posts to friends and family over the last couple of days.

Oct. 7, 2014, at 2:45 p.m.Mother got nailed twice while pulling vines off the back of the house. I went into the same general area to load up some firewood and got stung once on the arm. The culprits were yellow jackets. You might think they are bees, but they have skinny waists and they can sting more than once. I think they are in some sandbags we have old kindling in.

I sprayed the area with some magic bug killer, but that just got them stirred up.

Last night, I went out after dark with a flashlight after everybody must have gone to sleep and started pulling the area apart with a hoe. When I felt something hit my beard, I beat a hasty retreat indoors and saw one on my shirt winding up to nail me. I brushed him off and watched him buzz around the room while I searched for a can of bug spray.

I dug one out of my car and went back to battle. I finally spotted the guy and gave him a good blast, but didn’t see him fall. After waiting a few minutes, I figured he had passed on to his just reward.

This guy will NOT give up

About two hours later, I saw something whiz by my ear and start flying around the desk lamp. I waited until he got to a clear spot and I really let him have it this time. I don’t know whether he was poisoned or drowned, but he stopped moving.

We’ll give the nest another crack tonight.

[Note: it’s not easy to shoot yellow jackets buzzing around. The best I can do is point the camera in their general direction and fire away when I see one go by. The autofocus isn’t picking up on something as small as an insect, so the few I DID capture were fuzzy. On top of that, I’m paranoid every time I see something moving in my peripheral vision, I flinch and start swiveling my head around. You wouldn’t believe how many tiny bugs and mosquitoes there are in the air. And dust specks. You can click on the photos to make them larger, but nothing is going to improve this one.]

Oct. 7, 2014, at 3:06 p.m. – Helpful hint from a Facebook friend: Wait till after midnight and add kerosene to the hole. Use a full gallon and then let soak for 60 minutes, then add another gallon and light. Bees be gone.

Oct 7, 2014, at 3:12 p.m. – My yellow jackets are against the house. I don’t think Mother would like it if I burned down her house to get rid of theirs.

Oct 7, 2014, at 3:32 p.m. – Another helpful hint from Facebook: Ken, use a lighter, the long one, like you used on a grill

Oct 7, 2014, at 3:34 p.m. – Lighting it isn’t a problem. Putting it out might be.

I found the nest

Yellow jacket hive 10-08-2014Oct 7, 2014, at 7:39 p.m. – I found the nest. I waited until after dark until there was no activity (well, there was one guy, but I gave him a blast of bug spray and he spiraled down to the ground. I tried not to gloat.).

I pulled two sandbags of kindling out into the yard with no results, but when I yanked a third one out, I exposed the hive and they were none too happy. I made a dash back to the house and got the door closed just as a couple of them were smashing against the glass.

I’ll wait until just before I go to bed and wash the hive down with spray if there aren’t any buzzing around.

How does Wyatt Earp do it?

Tue, Oct 7, 2014 at 9:44 p.m. – After watching the second half of Tombstone, a cowboy shoot-em-up movie, with Mother, I went downstairs the check the yellow jackets. I must have carried one inside with me, because he was buzzing around the desk lamp.

Unfortunately, in my hasty retreat earlier, I left the flying insect spray outside. By the time I stuck my head outside to grab it, he was hiding.

I went outside and saw I had split the hive into two pieces and both were covered with bugs. I sprayed them both down until I ran out of kill juice and made a beeline back inside.

I’m sitting at the computer watching for movement out of my peripheral vision and hoping I remember how Wyatt Earp did that quick-draw thing.

Oct 7, 2014, at 9:46 p.m. – I stuck my head outside again. I think I may have won the skirmish. Nothing was in the air (although a cricket by the door frame took a year off my life).

The sizable hive had bunches of dead critters on it and none flying combat air patrol over it.

The guy in the basement must still be here somewhere. My head is still swiveling around and the bug spray is locked and loaded if he shows up. I’m full dressed in a long-sleeve shirt, jeans, socks and a cap. I was wearing gloves up until a few minutes ago.

After I took the gloves off, a mosquito bit me on the back of my hand.

Layers like pancakes

Yellow jacket hive 10-08-2014Oct. 8, 2014, at 10:04 a.m. – I got my first good look at the hive this morning. It’s pretty good size. It was built between the dirt and a sandbag. The spray killed a substantial number of the critters, but there are enough buzzing around in the air that I’m going to leave it alone until after dark.

I thought the hive was in two pieces, but the bulk of it is stuck to the bottom of a sandbag. I don’t see any movement ON the hive, but there are a dozen or so yellow jackets orbiting the area. I’ll let them settle down until after dark.

Oct. 8, 2014, at 9:05 p.m. – Went out with rake and pulled sandbags out into the yard. When I got a closer look at the hive, it appeared to be made up of multiple pancake-sized nests. I pulled apart some of the “pancakes” and thought I saw movement, so I blasted it and the area where I saw the activity this afternoon. Maybe it’ll all be over by morning.

What’s with Cape and stinging insects? I got nailed by a bee when I tried to shoot the destruction of Franklin School in 2012.