The summer of the drunken wasps

Wasps love fruit.

First, I do not mean to imply that all wasps are drunks.

No, no.

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.

Wasps love nectar.

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.

Many folks–like Barry’s co-editor at the newspaper–discovered huge wasp nests on their house.

“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?

Close-up of wasp nest.

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?

Yes, you too can decorate your living rooms with wasp nests. Just add a fake bird and people will ooooh and ahhhh!

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.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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28 Responses to The summer of the drunken wasps

  1. Fountainpen says:

    Just wanted you to know that I did have a nest like your pictures….I had it in my
    bedroom for years….and I loved it! It was empty of course!!!!!

  2. You’ve been invaded by drunk wasps. We’ve been invaded by stone cold sober box elder bugs, and we don’t even have box elder trees. Len thinks that when the neighbor’s replaced their portion of the fence they may have used box elder wood.

    I love the photographs. Gorgeous color!

  3. Brenda Hardie says:

    Hmm, let’s see..I think this summer has been the summer of biting gnats. Yes, those nasty little no see ums that feast upon our skin. Every time I go out to the garden, they have a heyday. And I end up with little pink welts all over. They even like to feast upon my scalp. I’ve seen a few wasps here too, but nothing out of the ordinary. Saw some at Rick’s too, but nothing like last summer where there were armies of them living happily beneath his decking. We also saw the swarm of hovering dragonflies this summer. I think that has been the most startling and beautiful thing I’ve seen this summer. I have also seen more hummingbirds this summer and even a pair of bluebirds (and they don’t usually stay in this area!).
    When I first saw your headline, Kathy, I thought that maybe you guys got a little too rowdy last night and the wasps were partying in the wine bottles. hehehe

  4. Stacy Lyn says:

    You know, I really did say, “Oh, look at that bird on the wasp nest!” just as you predicted. Ha!

    I don’t know what I would call this summer yet. Ask me next week after I get home. ❤

  5. the summer of discontent is how I would name ours

  6. Lori DiNardi says:

    Hello, my name is wasp and I’m a drunk. 🙂

  7. Heather says:

    I will call this the year we got rid of our wasps. We had thought this year seemed particularly bad with wasps, and had already had our place sprayed and also taken similar drastic measures. Getting rid of our deck in favor of a stone patio really reduced our wasp population – or waspulation if you will 😉 Keep your feet and other limbs safe from errant stingers!

  8. Reggie says:

    Good gosh, Kathy, that sounds like an alarming wasp-invasion. We had (in fact, I think we still have) wasps nesting under the edge of our roof… We had them ‘removed’, shall we say, some months back, but there are still wasps around, so I suspect they weren’t entirely ‘removed’. I’d be very nervous of stepping on one… even drunk and befuddled wasps who have passed out on your patio can still do some serious damage! So please be careful where you step, dear Kathy.

  9. Carol says:

    Every year it seems the wasps start a nest in the eaves by the morning room door, and every year I spray because I really don’t want them joining us in the house, or on the deck. We haven’t had a lot of issues in our yard with any particular creatures this year, but the trips to the bigger town 30 miles down the road result in needing a car wash when we arrive at our destination – it has been a year of unusually plentiful midges, which are always plentiful here in the summer, but this year they can be seen along the road along the lake forming columns of black – interesting, since they are very small, translucent green insects. So, how many midges of translucent green does it take to form a black column, we ask?

  10. Drunken wasps, indeed! I’ve worked, the last three days, at the restaurant/bar downtown. On the deck, every drink – simply sweet, or sweet with alcohol – had to have a lid, or the wasps would dive right in. Thanks, Kathy!

  11. kiwidutch says:

    I’m allergic to the blighters so one wasp is already a wasp too many… Himself is on removal duty if any come in the house, but that’s rare since we have screens and no garden (they prefer the neighbours garden to an upper apartment by all accounts).
    What would I call our summer ?: “the summer that wasn’t” probably since it rained so much.

  12. susan says:

    Hi Kathy,
    I’m allergic to bees and wasps – and boy we have had our big porch sprayed twice and it didn’t help this year. I did get stung, but in the car! I had my arm out on the window “ledge” as we were driving home from a bike trail ride, The bee went under my arm pit and down inside my tank top. Quite a scene with me whipping off my top on the side of the road (fortunately NO traffic) and the dern critter stung my boob! Not fun. Between the Benadryl and Epipen I was out all day afterwards! Went shooting with friends and lost my hearing for four days, then Saturday I collided with a chain link fence playin’ Pickleball and my right shoulder and arm are totally black and blue. It could be time for this wounded warrior to go home – haha!

  13. Sara says:

    I encountered a drunk wasp last night – in my house! He was stupid and sluggish, but I was still unable to evict/kill him. I don’t know where he escaped to, but I hope my bare feet won’t find him. Good luck with your drunken mob!

  14. Val says:

    Well, if our summer stays put long enough to actually have been a summer, I’ll let you know what we called it! 😉 But a few months ago we had an invasion of fur beetles. We don’t have fur in our house (not even on anything four legged) but they came indoors and made themselves very unwelcome. I still keep finding some.

    I’ve looked up ‘drunken wasps’ and aside from a Rugby team of that name (yep!) it’s true – wasps get drunk on fermented fruit. And apparently they are at their most aggressive when drunk, too. However, I can’t see how they can be if they’re as pissed as they sound. (British slang: Pissed = drunk. Pissed off= angry/annoyed.)

  15. Christine says:

    Amazing nest. Paper wasp nests are quite abundant around here this summer but they don’t usually get that big around our place. Delightful post, Kathy. Enjoy your boy’s visit.

  16. dawnkinster says:

    I think the nests are pretty…wasps? Not so much. I’d call this the hot summer of drought. So far anyway. Oh wait. It’s over. The summer, not the drought. 😦

  17. john says:

    Ranting against drunk WASPs … is there some political message in this? Hmmm …

  18. Karen says:

    I would call this the summer of butterflies…we have had so many this year. I think the mild winter and early spring in Maine may have given us an abundance of theses beauties.

  19. summer of negative politicians

  20. I haven’t noticed any drunk wasps around here, but there do seem to be an extraordinary amount of them, this summer – making up for the lack of mosquitoes, I guess. 🙂

  21. Kathy says:

    Thank you, my friends, for sharing your comments here. It was: the summer of the tone cold sober box elder bugs, the biting gnats, the summer of discontent, the unusually plentiful midges (although I am unsure what midges are), the summer that wasn’t, the bee-boob summer (sorry, SuZen!), the fur beetle summer, the summer of the drought, the summer of the butterflies, and the summer of negative politicians. If I missed any of your summer-stories, please let me know!

    Since writing this story, our wasps have become rather frisky. They no longer act lethargic and drunk. Perhaps they are eagerly anticipating autumn!

    Thanks again, dear friends, for sharing of yourselves.

  22. Robin says:

    Hmmm… I will probably think of this as the summer of the goldfinches. I could think of it as the summer of the drought, but I’d rather think of the sunny little birds playing in the thistle that they must have brought to our wildflower meadow last year. It could be the summer of thistle too. 🙂

    Wasp nests are amazing, aren’t they? I’ve never seen a drunken wasp. I shall keep a better eye on our wasps over the next few days and see how they’re doing. It’s possible they are drunk on goldenrod and I never even noticed. Wonderful post, Kathy.

  23. Marianne says:

    Yes, I remember last summer when the wasp population seemed to grow exponentially. Although wasps, spiders etc. are not on my list of favorites, I think mother nature is incredible.
    Wishing you a wonderful time with your son.

  24. Kathy says:

    Thank you again. I have not seen a drunk wasp since I wrote this, lol. Now all the wasps are buzzing furiously, as if anticipating the end of summer. Or maybe the colder weather has made them less lethargic?

  25. dearrosie says:

    After I hiked along the Bruce Trail in Ontario last week I discovered “bug” bites on my scalp. I’ve never ever had bug bites on my head before. Good lord!

    I’m also allergic to wasp bites and your photos of those hug nests gave me the shivers. I know that bees do an important job of pollinating our fruits and vegetables. What do wasps do besides stinging us?

  26. Kathy says:

    It is not kind of those wasps to give us allergies. My google research says that they help keep pest insect species under control. You wouldn’t believe what I saw today. One of those crazy wasps doing somersaults! What’s the world coming to?

  27. sybil says:

    The summer (and spring) of the big heat. Some may like it hot, but I prefer it cooler ….

    • Kathy says:

      Has it been that hot up in Nova Scotia? I know it was in lots of parts of the U.S. Not so much here though. Sounds like a good name. Maybe we should name every summer and write our titles down somewhere and then we tell marvelous stories about our memories.

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