Yellow Jacket (Wasp) nest“You have a bunch of yellow jackets out on your deck.” Kameron announced with a little Southern twang. Yellow Jacket, that’s the name of a road, right? Good thing he’d already explained the term to me. Yellow Jackets are common wasps here in America, big nasty yellow & black buggers. I had noticed a few of them flying around the apartment and had summarily evicted them. Stephen said they often came to visit him when he went out for a smoke.

So, it was with a mild sense of trepidation and curiosity that I ventured out to look at the source of the insects. There were two nests: one large one tucked away to the left (pictured above) and a smaller one straight up in the middle. After taking a few photos, I carefully opened the sliding door, depositing my camera inside. I picked up the outside broom and started sweeping cigarette ash off the balcony. I’m not sure whether I expected them to be watching but it seemed the right thing to do.

Wasp's nest knocked downSuddenly, in one swift movement, I raised the broom, struck the nest, gave a little yelp and ducked inside. Closing and locking the door behind me. “I’m not sure your master plan is a sound one” Stephen intoned as the wasps buzzed angrily around outside.
“Well, just don’t go outside for a while” I retorted.

It turns out, wasps have a nest memory like bees, and will hang around the same area, even when their nest is gone. I remember bees in particular, because when my father needed to move a bee’s nest (in his bee keeping days) he would need to move it in small increments or the insects would hang forlornly around the old nest site and die. Kameron suggested I go get some special wasp spray, so I did.

WaspOnce back with the spray, I took the opportunity to take a few candid wasp photos and silently cursed my digital camera. It’s good quality as point & shoot cameras go, but I have always been pushing its limits as far as its ability to take clear photos in all conditions. It was a big plus when I discovered I could fiddle with its ISO and exposure settings, allowing me to take photos like this and this without blurring. Still, I long for the proper 35mm lenses that come from a good quality SLR camera: lenses that would allow me to choose a shorter focal length for wider angle shots; lenses with proper manual focus so I can focus on things up close for so-called macro shots, lenses that can magically increase your effective shutter speed by eliminating shaking. I’m thinking of buying the Nokia D40 because it looks awesome. The lens I want costs more than the camera, but that’s normal.

Wasp sprayAnyway, after a few pictures, I shook the can of “Walgreens” (a pharmacy chain) generic wasp spray, aimed it at the second, larger, angrier nest and sprayed for all I was worth.

Now, wasp spray is specially designed to spray a long jet of frothy poison (pictured left), which kills on contact.

I needn’t have jumped back inside (as I did) because when I went back outside, I saw the wasps had all died instantly.

Wasp larvae up closeI felt a little remorseful. I don’t like killing anything. I remember quite vividly, when my sister stood on (and was subsequently stung by) a bee, I (beside myself with worry) went and made a sugar water solution in the hopes I could revive the bee and nurse it back to health. I remember my father constructing an elaborate lie about the plumbing system so as to allay my fears about the fate of ants that I accidentally flushed down the toilet. I still prefer to evict insects. Still, with such a large colony of wasps so close to where we spend leisure time, I had to take action, regretful though I was. I am reminded of my friend Sally who insists her husband gives the ants notice before he puts ant bait down and I idly wondered if I should have given the wasps a warning shot.

The pictures I got were quite interesting. I was personally fascinated to look at the different stages of larvae development.