More Christmas pain

Ouch, ouch, ouch!!!

Christmas time is joy, giving, and love. Yellow jackets are bold, aggressive, and if provoked, sting repeatedly, painfully and pursue you with the determination of a bulldog. The story you are about to read is true and about the day these two contradictions met and the battle that resulted.

Day 1: October 5th, 1800 hours

I was having a grand time trimming my trees for my Christmas lights. The weather was wonderful with the breeze gently blowing my hair. Unknown to me, evil lurked nearby.

I started cutting a branch when something buzzed me. I wasn’t worried; bees and wasps have never slowed me down. All of a sudden I felt the pain of sharp stings and the buzz of an impending attack. I knew I must evacuate immediately. I flew out while I swung and smacked my pursuers during my retreat. I was still being followed by evil as I sprinted towards safety. When I reached the house I asked my son Ryan to check me over. He said one was still on my backside and another in my hair. Death came swift to my enemy.

When I finally got a good look at my aggressors, I discovered they were yellow jackets! These beasts are mean, aggressive, and nasty. One can sting several times. If you swat at one it will alert the nest and others will join in on a vicious and fierce attack.

I had four stings, but the ones on my right hip and under my right eye hurt the worst. They were extremely painful and three hours later were still excruciating. I looked like I went 15 rounds with Mike Tyson and lost. I administered baking soda and a water mixture on my aching stings followed by ice. I was swollen under my eye and it watered from the constant pain. I was a mess and mad. No pest was going to ruin my Christmas and get away with it. It was time to get even and exterminate.

I returned to the scene of the attack with a can of wasp spray and emptied it at the area of what I thought was their nest but there was no glory. They were still there and my surprise attack had failed. It was time to head back to mission control and formulate plan B.

I read on-line what to do. Tomorrow, I am going to wait until dusk to counterattack the yellow jackets. I will wear the proper gear for protection. The yellow jackets are going to pay. As God is my witness, they will die. Nothing attacks me like they did and gets away with it. Death to the yellow jackets!!!

Since I install thousands of Christmas lights in the area of the yellow jacket nests and several kids play regularly around the area, it is time to be determined and destroy the home of the yellow jackets at all cost!

Day 2: October 6th 1730 hours

I located where the yellow jackets entered their underground nest beneath the ferns. I couldn’t see the hole, but have watched them come and go through the same entrance. I waited for dusk since that’s when they are at rest and can’t see as well.

My plan was to take a flash light and pinpoint the entrance to the nest. If I could locate it, I would empty a can of wasp spray directly into their nest. Dressed in my sweats, long socks, hooded jacket, gloves, flashlight, and carrying my wasp spray, I watched the last yellow jacket settle in for a long peaceful rest. I waited for about five minutes before going in for the kill. I felt apprehension knowing the devastating pain and destruction they could inflict. Sweat was seeping out of the pores of my skin and my senses were heightened. I was within ten feet, but I couldn’t find the opening to the yellow jacket nest. My plan was to wait for another yellow jacket to enter and follow closely but none showed.
I decided to try a new tactic. Picking up a stick, I poked the target area but there was no movement. It was time for this man to be more daring. As sweat soaked my clothes, I moved the ferns slowly. Suddenly, I saw the mother load! HOLY BEE STING BATMAN!!! Hundreds of yellow jackets were moving on the ground, making an eerie and unnerving sound. My heart nearly stopped; I forced myself to breathe. My feet wanted to run, but my resolve said to stand my ground.

I aimed the deadly spray with a steady hand and let loose on the nest. I sprayed until every ounce of poison was dispensed. I watched in the dark with my flashlight in mouth as the yellow jackets struggled through the ferns with foam sapping life from them. It might have been wrong, but I smiled. I felt justified and right. My job was done.

Day 3: October 7 – 1700 hours

I re-conned the site of the yellow jacket mission. I saw a yellow jacket fly over the area. I went in with a shovel and a new can of termination foam. I started probing the ground. All of a sudden I saw about 12 yellow jackets circling the area in a no fly zone. I was tempted to hit them with spray and end their flight abruptly, but thought better of it. It was my mission to find the ground nest. The yellow jackets were heading in my direction. I retreated to formulate plan C for tonight.

I estimated the entrance was further in the ferns than first assumed. I had to take chances to pinpoint the yellow jacket nest while remembering the nasty stings they had inflicted on me before. I planned on following a yellow jacket in on his blind spot (I sure hope they have a blind spot!) Once I found the entrance to the nest the final plan was well thought out and it was definitely going to be foam the dome time!

1800 hours

I found the hole and then the yellow jackets found me. They aimed for my head, I backed away and they settled down. Watching them I finally discovered the location of their hole. As I probed with a shovel, I discovered their hole under a small log in the ground surrounded by ferns.

At dusk, as the last yellow jackets settled in for the night, it was time to go in for the final assault! The only variable that might hold me back was the wind. The wind was almost too strong to use a spray can effectively. Hopefully, I could go in for the kill if I waited a little while longer.

1910 hours

As I approached the yellow jacket zone with determination and resolve the wind died down. I had no fear or regret. What I was about to do, must be done at all cost. I had a LED flashlight in my mouth and a can of doom in my right hand. Yellow jackets should fear me! They should fly, but I came in stealth mode and they were unaware! The death foam thrust forward and engulfed them before they knew they were dead. Yellow jackets struggled for a moment and then they moved no more.

As I approached my target, I easily found the entrance. The yellow jackets laid together row upon row of death. As I aimed for the final time I knew this was right. Peace on Earth and good will toward men (but certainly not yellow jackets!)

Day 4: October 8th, 1453 hours

I discovered that there were still a few yellow jackets flying around only after I violently disturbed the ground with the shovel. Sometimes it’s amazing what comes out when you start swinging a yard implement.

My new plan: dig, spray, dig, and spray. Anytime I saw a yellow jacket I sprayed and kept digging and probing with the shovel. This search and destroy technique worked to perfection; after two days of attacking them they were pretty stunned.

As I dug, I recovered parts of the nest. It consisted of a wall of comb. The comb was football shaped with the opening at one end. There were eggs and live yellow jackets in the comb. Ryan dug live yellow jackets out of the comb with his knife. When he gave me the all clear, I saturated the comb. My son probed the dirt around the hole I had dug earlier and found the queen. She was probably three to four times larger than the normal yellow jacket. Still moving, she was in bad shape. I fired the foam and watched her die. Her nest appeared to be 2′ x 3′. One part of the nest was folded upon itself. I brought it over to the pathway and gently placed it between the ferns. As the nest touched the ground, it unfolded. I was shocked when I saw at least 500 more yellow jackets either dead or struggling to move. My son and I watched for a moment and then I let them have it with the spray. Mission and recovery was complete. Our job was done here.

The story behind the story:

Sometime the year before my friend Art came over to help clean a neighbor’s backyard. While he was finishing up he was swarmed by yellow jackets and had to be taken to the hospital with over 100 stings. Later he told me so I wouldn’t run into the same problem.

When I saw Art and his wife walking by my house I ran out to the street and told him all about my war with the evil yellow jackets. Art was smiling as I described their destruction. He told me that the swarm that attacked him had an unbelievable nest size of 8′ x 6′! No wonder he went to the hospital.
I told Art while I was killing the yellow jackets I was getting even for him and that made him laugh. He is such a kind man with a great sense of humor. I was glad I could make him chuckle and get some kind of sweet justice for the pain the yellow jackets inflicted. We concluded these yellow jackets were descendants of the ones that attacked him.

Once I was stung four times, I ran. If I didn’t know this story I wouldn’t have ran so fast and I probably would’ve been in pretty bad shape.

This article was included in the September 2010 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.

By Michael Beason

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