For the last decade I have been stung roughly once a year by a paper wasp. While there can be no doubt that some of this comes down to bravado or carelessness on my part I think a notable part of the reason I keep getting stung is outside of my control.
There is something about our house, The Fortress of Funk as I like to call it, that attracts paper wasps. They have built nests under different eves of the house year after year. We have wasps in the basement on a regular basement even in the winter time. I can’t tell for the life of me how they get in and why it’s only one at a time. Perhaps it is our apple trees in the backyard. Perhaps it is our cable TV. Maybe it’s the yellow siding and cedar shakes that cover the house. I just don’t know. Or it could be me. This morning I saw that a good sized (about the size of a fist) paper wasp nest rolling in the arch over the front door of the building in which I work. Maybe I am a natural enemy of wasps.
This year added a new wrinkle to the running battle. Like many suburban dwellers we have a tool shed (a general misnomer in this case as the tools are in the garage) in the backyard. This shed is slowly returning to the land despite my efforts to the contrary. It is only a matter of time before the whole thing will have to be torn down and rebuilt on ground not riddled with gopher holes, vole homes, and ant hills. The hinges for one of the doors have rusted and rotted away meaning the doors don’t sit well together.
This means there are little spaces around the doors.
It would be fair to say that mowing the lawn is a task that I have complex feeling about. It was handed down to me as a manly task from my Dad and I have been dutifully performing this job since I was about ten years old. One of the joys of my life will be when I can hand this task over to my son in turn (6 years to go and counting…). The mower is kept in the shed.
You know what else was in the shed this year? A paper wasp nest right at face level. I consider myself lucky as I didn’t get stung in the face upon its discovery. I mustered an orderly withdrawal and then swept the battlefield with a surprise chemical attack to win the day. Foamy science spray to the rescue. This potential for immediate face stinging is new and unwelcome.
But If I had my druthers I would gladly leave the wasps in peace. They generally don’t trouble me. It isn’t until they build their homes right in the path of my daily activities that there is ruination. Why don’t they just build their nest in one of the pine trees or ash trees in the yard? Wasps in the yard = OK. Wasps above the door, window, in the garage, or at face level = not OK.
Maybe this year with be a year without stings even if it won’t be a year without wasps.