To be more specific: it was a wasp. To be even more specific, it was a colony of wasps and I did not kill them, actually; I simply gave the order for their execution.
This all started with saving a life, albeit a small one. Yesterday, I delivered a small black jumping spider that found its way into my kitchen out to the deck. This was no easy chore as the spider kept jumping, of course, and eluding my various attempts to catch it until it jumped onto an area rug and disappeared. I shook out the rug to no avail. Swept the floor, easily, and there it was, a moving spec of detritus the size of a tiny pill. This time, I succeeded in capturing it and ventured outside. That’s when something moving caught my attention and when I looked up—a flurry of activity in the rafters around a typical aerial nest the size of an orange.
Perhaps it was the heat, another 90-plus degree afternoon, but they were extremely busy. Maybe they were trying to keep the future generation cool. I don’t profess to know much about bees, though I am welcoming to the honeybee. I thought “hornet” at first, not that either wasp or hornet is a plus. When I did a little research, the bleeding-heart part of me wanting some solution other then poisoning them, one site offered the following distinction along with identifying photos: “Wasp: skinny, mean as fuck, good for nothing, basically a bee on meth” and “Hornet: A wasp on steroids, usually so badass it doesn’t even bother to sting you; still, stay the fuck away from it.” Both can sting multiple times and both are known to be aggressive. And we are not talking about just one wasp here. Wasps are also known to attack honeybee hives and feast on the honey in order to feed their hatched larvae in late spring and early autumn. Even other bees don’t like wasps.
I never use pesticides in my house nor in my yard; I am particular about additives not being in my food, my laundry supplies, and so on. But, I have grandkids who visit often including a 4-year-old granddaughter and not-quite-2-year-old grandson, and the tenants upstairs have a 1-year-old child who is often out on their deck—the same deck the nest is so expertly attached to on the underside.
This morning, management sent a man to do the dastardly deed. He sprayed the nest with professional pesticide and told me it would all be over in half an hour. I watched on and off from behind the safety of my closed glass deck doors in the comfort of my air-conditioned dining room as the wasps first flew back and forth, trying so hard to get to their nest, take care of their nursery, but they would recoil when they got within a few inches. They kept at it for nearly half an hour, until they finally started to gather again on the nest. It wasn’t long before they became disoriented. I cannot say what they must have been feeling, only that watching certain death, even on such a small scale, is disturbing. An hour later, there is no sign of them, not even a single one dead on the deck floorboards. I worry they will become food, for a crow perhaps, and the poison will spread, like the small fish that feeds on something polluted from an oil spill who is then eaten by the bigger fish which is eaten by an even bigger fish, which is eventually caught, makes its way to our dinner tables and we reap what we sow, but I digress.
There is no going back and making another choice. And regret is folly. I apologize in my heart for an execution ordered and carried out, but we must do the hard thing sometimes. I take a bit of solace in the life of a small black jumping spider who lived to see another day, and in some symbiotic way may have saved a small human from some pending trauma that would have haunted her, giant wasps visiting her in her dreams again and again. (Okay, so it’s a little melodramatic…)
Later in the day, it will rain and rain, the sky in persistent lament.
A health tip for today: //www.healthline.com/health/wasp-sting
“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” – Lord Byron
Question: Why did the bumblebee wear a yarmulke? Answer: Because it didn’t want to be confused with a wasp.
Image: “Green on Yellow,” Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 2005. © Faith Vicinanza