An unholy trinity of discordant pitches hummed near the light above my head as I crouched in the attic, fly swatter poised. Bizzzzzz—flop—squirm—SLAP!—final death wiggle. The yellow jackets land on the lightbulb, slightly fry themselves and fall within reach of my death blow.
This was the morning of Isaac’s birthday in the guest room, mere hours before my parents arrived to sleep in it.
For weeks the bug guys and I have been battling a yellow jacket hive settled somewhere deep in an exterior wall. I’d already vacuumed up dozens or a hundred stinking dead bees. Chris killed 50 more that morning. I swept up 103 a few days later. Today I swept up another 104 with 13 more out of reach. It’s the largest yellow jacket hive the bug guy has ever had in a house, probably growing for over a year and just now active.
Yellow jackets aren’t fuzzy cute bumble bees. Yellow jackets aren’t honey bees. Yellow jackets are mean, aggressive, stinky bees whose stings hurt for hours. The bug guy said the more people get stung, the more they react to the venom, swelling to the point where one of them has to carry an epi pen now. No one has been stung at our house yet, except me tomorrow because I just wrote that. And they really do stink. The second time I vacuumed them up the poor vacuum smelled like a dirty diaper and broccoli had decayed inside it for weeks.
So after the bug guy came today—like the sixth time I think—I started sweeping them up so I can get an accurate count of new pests. Hopefully there won’t be many more because they’re all dead. I was on the stairs sweeping up number 23 of my eventual 104 total when instead of a hum I heard a growl—the rumble of a lawnmower or helicopter rotors or something. What the heck was that sound?! ZZZZZZIM! A dragonfly dive bombed me from the top of the attic stairs. ZZZZZZOOM! It dived again. I shrieked like a little girl and ran down the stairs, leaving the dustpan behind. Wait, no shrieking. This was during nap time.
Anyway I waited at the foot of the stairs but didn’t hear the motor anymore. BBBRRRZZZZ. BBBRRRZZZZ. It sounded intermittently. It was coming from my dustpan. A monstrous yellow jacket—fully two or three times the body length of the others, crawled around the dead and swirming bug bodies in the dustpan, willing them back from the dead, raising a brood of venomous zombie yellow jackets.
Swallowing my revulsion, I attacked the killer queen (dynamite with a laser beam!) with my dust broom. Again and again! Until finally her twisting body lay helpless with her dead brood. She should have counted as more than just one. But with her gone, the bug guys said any remaining bees will soon follow her to the grave.
I had been tired and dragging, but oh boy did THAT little battle with a poisonous enemy fire me up. Nothing like the anticipation of possible agonizing pain to sharpen up your afternoon. I really am going to get stung tomorrow. I got stung by a yellow jacket as a kid, blue and black wasps, enormous mud daubers, you name it. “Hold still and it’ll leave you alone” doesn’t work with wasps—holding still got me a huge wasp down my bathing suit for the sting.
So my advice is RUN. Screaming like a little girl is optional!