I’m certainly not known for having a green thumb. I think the daffodils are thriving due to my neglect. If I actually turned my attention to them, they’d probably be goners, too.
Another harbinger of Spring in my yard is the appearance of wasps, specifically yellow jackets. Generally, I’m a “live and let live” kind of person, but having had bad encounters with yellow jackets for three summers in a row now, I was not pleased to see one of these show up this morning.
The first summer that yellow jackets nested on my property, they chose the vicinity of my compost pile. I was turning the pile with a pitchfork one hot day, and I thought maybe the heat was getting to me, because I was starting to see spots in the air. When I began hearing buzzing in my ear, I looked up to see a cloud of yellow jackets swarming around my head.
I tried to stay calm, but it’s hard to keep one’s cool when you feel the insects crawling into your hair. I made a run for the house, and by the time I got inside and closed the door, I had been stung three times. A few yellow jackets had followed me into the house, and there were two actually stuck in my hair!
I avoided the compost pile the rest of the summer, trusting that the insects would die out in the winter, and hoping that they would relocate the next year. They did relocate; they moved about 10 yards north into some rotted railroad ties that hold up the back edge of my lawn.
That year I discovered their nest when I was mowing the lawn and disturbed them. I tried to “be cool,” backing away and hoping they would take their wrath out on the lawn mower, and not me. That didn’t work, and once again, I ended up running for the sanctuary of the house with the yellow jackets in hot pursuit. I got stung four times, and again had to shake one of the critters out of my hair.
Last summer, they nested in the eaves near my front door. I tried to live in harmony with them, even though they drove me away whenever I attempted to use the barbecue grill on my deck. But when they started flying into my house on a regular basis, I had had enough. I called the exterminators.
A man showed up, took a long pole and began hitting the eaves with it to see where the yellow jackets were coming from. I watched through my living room window, debating as to whether I would open the door should he come under attack and need to run inside. I knew the wasps would follow and by now I was pretty terrified of them.
Fortunately it didn’t come to that. The exterminator found where the majority of the action was taking place and proceeded to resolve the problem (supposedly in a safe-to-the-ecology manner, although I don’t know how something that can kill a whole nest of yellow jackets can be otherwise “safe”).
This year I was hoping to be yellow jacket free, but it looks like that may not be the case. I’ve certainly lost my “live and let live” composure where those particular insects are concerned. I will try trapping them this year, and maybe I will get lucky and snag the queen before they have a chance to multiply into terror-striking numbers.
It’s frustrating to have insects that I can’t seem to get rid of and plants that I can’t seem to keep around. Maybe there’s some kind of cosmic justice to it all, but I’m not seeing it. I guess I’ll just hope for the best this year. After all, it’s only Spring.