26 October 2009

what's the buzz? or, bees in my bonnet

"Buzz" has become one of the most hateful words in the English language.

About 2 weeks ago, I found a dead - insect - in my bathroom, which has no insulation, a pitiful, tiny heat grate, a veneer vanity that peels if you try to clean it, and a door that opens to the garage. The previous owners must have been - - words fail me, especially since they built it for their aged parents. (Perhaps they did not like their parents. It happens.) Only one detail distinguishes this room from an outhouse: it doesn't have a crescent moon carved in the door.

The next day, I heard buzzing. Several - insects - were flying around the skylight. Since I was not wearing my glasses, I assumed the buzzing was from bees. I panicked (even though I do have an Epi-pen on the shelf), and grabbed the first thing I could to spray at them. Unfortunately, it was a tub cleaner with bleach. The buzzing continued. The bleach fell onto some of my clothes. (In fact, about 1/3 of my work clothes now sport polka-dots. I do not like polka-dots.)

The bleach did not work. Next, I swatted at them with a towel. I missed. Good thing, too. When my DH came in to see, he informed me that the buzzers were not bees. They were yellowjackets. Ferocious, lethal yellowjackets.

We got some of the appropriate insecticide and sprayed all of the suspected portals. They kept coming. My DH began to caulk the likely portals. They kept coming. Then he broke out the duct tape. They kept coming.

I wandered outside the yard while he caulked and taped. What I saw out there was horrible, horrible: a swarm of yellowjackets, hundreds of them, flying in and out of the siding outside of where the bathroom had been slapped together built. It was like something out of Hitchcock - The Birds, perhaps - except with buzzing. My DH emptied a can of wasp spray under the siding.

If a wasp could twirl its moustache and sneer, these would have been twirling and sneering a loud HAH! I went to the hardware store and said, "short of a flamethrower, do you have anything for swarms of yellowjackets?" I came home. DH sprayed. HAH!

I did some research and learned that yellowjackets can build nests that can cover a football field. (Slight hyperbole. Slight.) I probably have been showering about 2 inches from an entire wall of their honeycomb-like nest. (The horror!)

The exterminator is coming tomorrow. I hope he has a flamethrower.

logo for heifer international

When I get really depresssed, a donation to Heifer International often cheers me. Usually, I buy a beehive. Somehow, yesterday, I didn't feel like buying a beehive, so I went for the trees. Yes, I do feel a little better.


Donna Lee said...

Just the idea of all those yellowjackets makes me nervous. The two times I got stung, it was nasty, nasty yellowjackets. And I was minding my own business!

amy said...

Next time, spray citrus oil instead of bleach. (Well, hopefully there's not a next time, and this only works for one or two, not a swarm.) The oil clogs their external lung-type thingies and they die almost immediately. Whenever a wasp finds its way into the house, that's what I do. I can't/won't spray anything toxic around the kids.

Did you see Heifer International's Knitting Basket? A share is $50, and I think a whole basket buys four fiber-bearing animals. I'm hoping someone gets me a share in a Knitting Basket for Christmas. What could be more perfect? :)

kathy said...


More sympathetic I cannot be. We have the same problem because of our siding: incessant infestation of yellow-jackets and hornets. I hate them both. Although we have "vinyl" siding, which is supposedly less appealing to hornets, they apparently did not read the manufacturer's claims, and they camp out here all summer long. We've had exterminators come who drench the entire house with liquid bug hornet/wasp/bee killer, but that just makes me feel sick, dizzy, and generally awful. Our neighbors get their house doused every month in the summer. I don't know how they take the insecticide, even if the guys swear it is environmentally safe! But nothing short of that heavy spray seems to work even temporarily on the hornets. Good luck getting rid of those pests!!

Thanks for admiring my Cherry Tree Hill "Kernel" scarf!!!

BTW, is your ktc moderator email still active? I have not been able to figure out how to set my blog so that email addresses are sent to by commentors, and I know you've mentioned this to me in the past (or maybe that my email doesn't show up when I comment to you).

KSD said...

Inappropriate to laugh at this, I know. But I laughed.

Julie said...

I don't think I'm going to sleep for a week. Thank heavens for exterminators. I'd have to go stay in a hotel for the night!

KnitNana said...

Oh dear, please take care, and keep the Epi Pen near...
(from one allergic to another!)

La Duchesse said...

How awful! I hope everything works out with the exterminator.

We have trouble with carpenter bees here, but they're pretty laid back. The yellow jackets make nests underground, so mowing the grass in the summer can sometimes be tricky. You definitely have my sympathy!

Carrie K said...

A wall of yellowjackets?! Merciful Murgatroyd. Use a flamethrower.

Melanie said...

Ew, ew, ew! Poor you, how terrible and cringe making. We had a big nest of carpenter bees that my husband seems to have routed after two years of battle...we will see in the spring I guess. Lots of luck to you on getting rid of them all!!!