Saturday, July 24, 2010

Wasp Attack!

Every year about this time I fall victim to a ground wasp attack, a mud dauber ambush, if you will, that leaves me with swollen arms and legs and woozy from the attendant Benadryl. This year I was stung 12 times, down from last year’s 17 but up from the nine in 2008.
I am, most of the time, one with nature. Or maybe one-half; I capture indoor spiders and put them outdoors, rescue praying mantises, feed ladybugs. I never, ever, catch lighting bugs and put them in jars. I move desiccated worms off the sidewalk, adopt homeless snakes, trap mindless moths and give them a second chance. And then comes the wasp attack and I counterstrike with rage and a family-size can of Wasp Whup Ass which allows me to spray the little black and yellow bastards from 15 feet away.

Mud daubers come in three varieties—solid black, iridescent blue and black and yellow.  The last are my nemesis. They can be up to one inch long, They build nests in the soil, in the cracks found in buildings and, notably, in the openings and tubes of aircraft speed and altitude measuring systems. Mud daubers are thought to be responsible for the crash of Birgenair Flight 301 that killed 189 passengers and crew in 1996.

They have one attribute: they prey on black widow spiders.

When they attack, they do so in numbers. Yesterday’s assault occurred when I accidentally ran over a nest of them with a wheelbarrow. Suddenly, my right leg was on fire, followed by my left arm. I high-tailed it into my garage and a winged platoon followed. One ambitious little soldier got into my shorts and stung me twice on the butt. I suppose I should be grateful, it could have been worse.

I seem to be recovering more quickly from the stings than I did last year, which leads me to believe I may be developing some sort of immunity. Or maybe they went easy on me. I am working on acceptance. There’s every possibility that I will be stung next year and the year after that.  What was it Alfred, Lord Tennyson said? Nature, red in tooth and claw. He forgot the stingers.

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