First, I do not mean to imply that all wasps are drunks.
Most wasps are respectable insect citizens, buzzing to and fro, doing their wasp thing. They are friendly creatures of our planet, preying upon pest insect species, possibly keeping us safe from unfriendly pest invasions.
This summer, however, the wasp species seems to have tripled (by my casual estimates.) Everywhere one looks one sees wasps buzzing around. I am certain that this summer shall forever be known in our parts as The summer of the wasps.
First, someone spotted wasps at the small K-6 two-room school where I work. Wasps had invaded the dumpster. The maintenance man sprayed, but could not kill them. One of the board member’s husbands arrived wearing coveralls and boots and netting and thoroughly extinguished the nest.
Then I noticed wasps hangin’ round our deck. Of course, they always hang around our deck, each and every summer. But this year there appeared many of the creatures. Legions of them; armies. They also appeared somewhat befuddled–as if they were drinking too much fermented nectar. They seemed direction-less. They sprawled as they landed.
“The wasps are drunk,” I duly noted after lazily watching the wasps for a half hour. Husband raised his eyebrow.
They especially liked to hang out near my reclining lawn chair. They especially liked to sprawl on the deck flooring near where my bare foot might meet an errant stinger.
I decided drastic measures must be taken.
“Honey, do we have wasp spray?” I asked, before hunting in the closet. Alas. Only ant spray appeared. I decided there couldn’t be much difference between poisonous ant spray and poisonous wasp spray–and sprayed at the boards on our deck where the creatures languished.
The wasps dutifully died–or disappeared. My bare toes appreciated their absence. All was well in the woods. Wasps still buzzed over our deck, but they remained under control.
Last Saturday Barry covered a varsity football game up in Lake Linden for the newspaper. I reluctantly accompanied him in the 90 degree afternoon and parked myself beneath a beautiful shade tree beside the football field. Six parents and their children also cooled under the shade tree.
Two mischievous boys realized that–oh, how exciting!–wasps lived in the tree. Not one wasp, or sixteen wasps, but hundreds of wasps. The boys discovered that they could bat the wasps with rolled up football rosters and the wasps would fall, stunned, in a drunken stupor, against the pavement.
Smash, smash, smash!
“Boys, stop that,” a parent begged feebly, wiping sweat from her brow.
A wasp landed on my sandal. I jumped, shook it off and then peered closer.
Yes, the wasps appeared drunk.
How many fermented blackberries existed? Had goldenrod nectar turned to cider? Were they simply spent in late summer heat? Had they already raised baby wasps and now prepared to die exhausted deaths?
Barry arrived beneath the wasp-filled tree.
“There are thousands of drunk wasps in this tree,” I said, “Please take me home.”
Six wasps fell at our feet.
“See what I mean?” I said.
Every summer is different. In 2000 we experienced the Year of the Forest Tent Caterpillar. Some years the mosquitoes go crazy. Other years we swat biting flies again and again and again.
This year is the Summer of the Wasps.
I’ll remember it as the summer of the drunken wasps, even though nobody else quite believes it.
If you could name this past summer, what would you call it?
P.S. Don’t any of you worry that I’m neglecting our firstborn by publishing a blog during his visit. This little waspy story was written way back last lazy Labor Day weekend and has been languishing in a folder ever since.