Hornets and Wasps and Bees oh my!

I worked doing landscape for a few years at a university in my home town.  There are so many stories I could tell from that job but I’m going to start with the bleacher assignment I got once.  Before the outdoor sport season starts (baseball, football, etc.) someone has to check under the bleachers for different types of creatures that decide to make their home there.  This was my job one day.  So I set out with a mirror duct taped to a broom stick (modern technology I know) so I could scan underneath the seats.  I was specifically looking for black widows, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and bees.  I started on the home side.  I walked up and down, back and forth.  There was the occasional web with no spider and a bee or two.  No biggie.  I made it over to the visitor’s side.  Same thing, up and down, back and forth.  You wouldn’t think it would take that long to check the bleachers especially since this was a smaller unversity hence a smaller stadium but this had so far taken up a large portion of my day.  I don’t know if it was the heat, I was in Arkansas in the middle of the summer, or shear boredom (probably both) but I wasn’t really paying attention anymore.  That’s why before I knew it I had almost walked right into a large yellow jacket nest.  And I’m talking huge.  This thing was at least 6 or 7 inches tall and wide.  I believe there was an intake of breath followed by a swear word.  Holy crap it was big.  My very first thought was “they’re crazy if they think I’m going to get rid of this.”  But then I thought of my supervisor and a few guys on the crew who were actually terrified of bees and their relatives.  I’m not terrified, I just don’t like them.  And I was the only girl on the crew and was always aware that the guys watched to see if I would get special treatment because so.  I could only imagine what they would think if I went back in the office and said I wasn’t going to get rid of the nest and someone else had to do it for me.  There was no other option.  I had to suck it up and do it myself. 

I think I still stood there a good 10 min at least after I came to that decision.  So I got ready.  I had a plan.  That plan was to spray for as long as I dared and run like the dickens down the bleachers.  I braced myself.  I might have even said a prayer.  And I sprayed.  Then this monsterous cloud of yellow and black emerged, and for the briefest of moments I hesitated like a deer in headlights.  And then I ran.  Oh how I ran!  I ran all the way down to the bottom and started across longways halfway across the bleachers.  I stood their panting half from adrenaline and half b/c I was so out of shape.  Again I waited for about 10 min before making my way back up.  I was convinced that they would be able to smell fear like dogs.  Or at the very least they would be able to smell the can of Raid and know I was the killer behind the ambush and I was back for more.

All was not as quiet on the home front as before.  Many were circling around the nest or maybe they were mourning the loss of their comrades as there were quite a few that had fallen in the attack.  As I was standing there trying to build my courage back up, two co-workers pulled up in their truck…to watch!!  Apparently, I hadn’t realized I was as high as I was and they had seen the whole thing from wherever they had been on campus and came for front row seats.  I asked for help but they couldn’t hear me over their pointing and laughing.  And it was apparent I couldn’t just wait it out until they left because they actually turned off the truck and sat back to watch.  Thanks a lot guys.

So I mentally went over my plan again…spray and run! Spray and run!  So I began spraying and to my surprise they were quicker at leaving the nest and actually starting coming towards me.  I don’t know if that’s normal behavior but it’s what really happened.  I think I let out a little yelp and turned to run.  This time I didn’t run quite as far (only a few bleachers down) but there were a few eager yellow jackets that had still been following.  This caused another yelp from me and continued running.  Much to the delight of the guys in the truck.  Jerks. 

But this time going back up was better because I had killed the majority of them and the rest seemed to have flown away.  There were a few stragglers but no real threat.  It took  a while to pry the nest out but when all was said and done I had conquered the beasts and could say I killed hundreds with a single can.

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