Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Yellow jackets? Wasps? Hornets?  We have not ever been exactly sure, but knew they were trouble.

The first encounter was a serious one.  The summer after we moved to Howard Street, Bing started tackling the wilderness outside that preceded any semblance of a yard.  He was clearing small trees, tenacious vines, and general underbrush on the east side of the house when from inside I heard him cry out and yell for help.  I just about collided with him as he told me to get a broom, waving his arms over his head surrounded by an angry buzzing cloud.  He unwittingly had stepped into a nest in the ground, setting them off, and had been stung multiple times before he could escape the swarm. 

Fortunately he did not have the allergies that I have to stings and bites, and some ice, Benadryl, and a phone call to a pest control company addressed the immediate problem.  But every summer we have had to be on the lookout for their nests and occasional intruder inside the house. 

This summer they have been on a building spree.  Nests have appeared seemingly overnight, even beyond the east side of the house.  One visitor to my front door nervously pointed out a nest overhead, crawling with emerging hazards.  Great. 

For several early Saturday mornings, I’ve been hauling out the tall ladder from the garage, and armed with a spray can of something surely carcinogenic, give brave shots at the nests by windows and doors, beating a hasty retreat.  Later, I haul the ladder out again to knock the hopefully-now-vacated nests down.  It’s been a process but I was hoping to have regained the upper hand and could move on to other yard projects.

As I was trimming the pyrus kawakami  tree by the front door recently, this discovery startled me.  Despite my distaste for and, well, I’ll admit it, fear of these guys, I had to hand it to them.  This nest was very intriguingly built, cantilevered on one thin twig.  I came inside, determined to figure out once and for all exactly what species this is.  Online I looked at different kinds of nests until I saw one that matched the honey-comb pattern.  Aha!  Paper wasps.

In the meantime, at  the office I’ve also been living in a virtual hornet’s nest.  Our new dean is transitioning in, and every appointment and conversation he is reported to have had is, in turn, reported upon and analyzed, re-reported and re-analyzed, again and again.  An enormous game of “telephone” is going on, with some of the players constantly swarming, jockeying for position and advantage.  No spray can exists for this, unfortunately.  Great.

Wasps at home, hornets at work.   I know, though, that both situations will settle down.  Any nests left undetected at this point will stand empty for the rest of the year, and whether I like the results or not, what my new reporting structure will be, will become known.  The new dean told me himself to keep doing what I’m doing, and I’ve got more than enough to do while this transition plays out.  My patience is running awfully thin, but having been through many a dean transition, I know that staying patient is the best course.   That, and staying out of the way of stinging, swarming creatures.

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