by Sue Morgan
Yellow Jackets are in season and I’ve had to wipe out two small nests already. Sue is a treasured friend and writer from Ireland, and I got a kick out of reading her ordeals with the “little yellow and black blighters.” – ML
The ‘Season of Bursting Beech Nuts’ aka ‘the Season of those Friggin’ Wasps’ is upon us again. Having been away for a week’s holiday, which didn’t tie in nicely with the council’s fortnightly schedule of bin collection, meant that I came back to a black bin swarming with the little yellow and black blighters.
I couldn’t get close to the bin without them sensing me and starting to get agitated, squirting their ‘angry’ pheromones and freaking me out with the idea of multiple stings and possible anaphylactic shock.
But, the bin was due out. It has to be put on the side of the road, handle side out ready for collection. This means dragging it about a hundred yards down a rutted lane to the gate. Normally this is a MAN’S job. It involves brute force strength and so in our house a mere woman wouldn’t be allowed to tackle it. Sure though, what do I care? I get out of bin duty. But, where are the men when you need them? When the wasps are in a frenzy of late summer hunger? They are up in the hills, bonding over canvas and fishing rods, that’s where, leaving me to deal with the wasps.
Well, what do I do? The first thought was to wimp out. Do nothing, pretend it didn’t happen. ‘Oh, bin day. Yes, when was that? I must have forgotten’. But, no, I’m a Mum, I couldn’t do that. I have enough guilt to be going on with, thank you.
Next, I googled the council offices to get the phone number to talk to someone with responsibilities for the bins. ‘sorry, I thought I should tell you about the wasps. Health and Safety and all. I wouldn’t want any of your men to be stung’. That’s it. Shove the responsibility onto some once else. But, no, I couldn’t do that, that would involve guilt and shirking. And then, guilt about shirking.
So, I looked up what to do when you have an infestation of wasps in your dustbin. Would you believe that there are whole websites devoted to such a thing? Well, there are. I read several, most of which revolved around getting the ‘men’ in to deal with the problem. I then noticed that they had brand names on their pages and phone numbers to call ‘for immediate, next day attention.’ My problem was that the bin men would be here at eight thirty sharp the next morning. So that was out of the equation too.
I am ashamed to say that my next action was to phone the ‘hills’ for advice. It came in the form of ‘ask the neighbour’, another version of passing the buck, letting a man do it, and the guilt of someone else being stung in the process. Definitely not my style at all. Back to the internet it was.
I found one helpful nugget of information though which led to a PLAN OF ACTION. Wasps go to sleep at night. Ah ha! I had them. I waited until it was dark. Or nearly dark – this is summer you know! I would move the bin whilst they were unawares! I had to prepare.
Firstly, I had to don the correct clothing. I didn’t want there to be any flesh exposed to wasp attack. So, already being in my pjs, these formed the base layer. I tucked the bottoms into a pair of sports socks. I then put on a pair of good thick black jeans. I don’t know if wasps can see in the dark, but I wasn’t taking any chances. I pulled a hoody over my top half and then a long black coat with a tight funnel neck over the top. God, I was warm. To finish off the ensemble were the ‘mucking out’ boots, to confuse their sense of smell and a then, dish cloth over my head for good measure.
All went well enough in the general approach. The web site was right. The wasps did seem to be asleep. I gently taped the bin shut with two strips of ‘duck tape’ and grabbed the handle at the back. Now, if you ever see an Olympic sport in the future where a granny does the 100 metre sprint, in the dark, in fancy dress, think of me. It started here. I pounded down that rutted road like no-one’s business, with fears in my head of the swarm of wasps that was becoming more and more angry trussed up in the bin that was being jolted up and down.
Nevertheless, bravery and courage won out and I got right to the end of the lane. By now the sound from the bin was hysterical. I positioned the black buzzing nightmare with the handle correctly positioned facing into the road and high tailed it back up to the house. I texted the other half –‘job done’, then slept the sleep of the proud.
But, you’ve guessed it! I went down this morning to collect the bin. There was a neatly written note from the council stuck to the top of the bin. ‘Sorry, we couldn’t empty your bin today. It was taped up’.
Back to the internet. I’m sure that someone has posted an article on what to do when….
About Sue: Sue Morgan lives in Northern Ireland with her husband and two teenage boys. Her work has appeared in print in the Static Poetry Anthologies, the Belfast Poetry Map, the Best of Writing3All 2010 and online, at Every Day Poets, HaikuJ and Keep Her Lit. This summer she makes her debut in the Irish literary magazines, Southword Journal and Crannog.