The wasps, that is, not me.
An odd consequence of this terrible summer`s weather is that we’re getting busier than ever, just when the season is usually calming down. And this is all to do with what’s happening on the inside.
Nobody has been troubled by the wasps in their roof voids and bay windows up until now because they’ve not been out gardening and barbecuing to be buzzed. So they’ve just left them alone thinking ‘they’ll die off soon’. Which of course they will, but only after the nest produces a thousand or so new queens to hibernate nearby and make next year’s nests. These sleepy ladies toddle off out of the nest to look for places to hide and quite a few of them toddle inside. Ergo, the people who were’t being bothered by their wasps last month have roomfuls of them now.
This all makes for a busy time since the colony is now harder to kill. Not only do we have to inject the nest, we have to clamber into lofts to fog out with a different insecticide to see off the ladies who have already left home. There is much shinning up and down of ladders and wearing of masks and every job takes twice as long.
There are more lost wasps too, since they are all out feasting on the season’s rotting fruit. Coming home a bit tipsy, they tend to mistake one house for another and, not finding the nest, end up inside and a bit miffed. There’s nothing we can do for the poor people who call us up in desperation with regular visits from belligerent strays, except go find the real nest on a neighbour’s property. You’d be amazed how many people refuse to have a nest treated just because someone else’s baby is getting stung to blazes.
I would like to have a photo for you of week’s bit of excitement but you’ll see why there isn’t one in a moment.
We attended a lovely 3-storey house with a wasps’ nest in the roof next to a dormer window. It was impossible to get at from the outside, being higher than our ladders would go…and would normally have required scaffolding. Which is expensive. But The Boss had a brainwave. The householder said she could hear the wasps behind the plaster in the baby’s nursery. She told us that she’d whacked the wall with her hand before she realised they had wasps and we could go look and see where the noise was because the plaster had cracked.
‘We can drill through from the inside,’ quoth the boss. ‘If you have to replace the plaster anyway one hole won’t make a difference.’
The lady agreed and we set to work to get everything ready. Drill, extension cable, short lance on the insecticide duster and pieces of sellotape.
‘How do we stop the wasps coming through the hole?’ I enquired, a little apprehensive. We’d not got my protective suit with us, but The Boss hadn’t bothered to put his on either, so I assumed there was a cunning plan.
‘As I remove the drill, you put the lance in the hole, then when you remove the lance, I’ll apply the tape.’ A smooth bit of teamwork would keep us both safe.
We chose a spot half way between the broken plaster and the gap we’d seen the wasps going in on the outside. The teamwork bit worked perfectly, but we’d missed the nest.
‘Let’s try again where she heard the noise.’
I got all ready with the point of the lance at the new spot, bit of tape etc and The Boss drilled. The cracked circle of plaster, about a foot in diameter, fell away and the nursery filled with wasps. You have never seen two old farts move as fast as we did out of that room, falling over each other and many and various cables to get on the other side of the door. Which wouldn’t quite close due to all the cables running in and out.
‘I’ll hold the door then, shall I?’ quoth the bobbin as the Boss headed downstairs to collect his bee suit.
‘Are you suiting up as well?’
‘I can’t my suit’s in the other van.’
‘And we’ve only got one mask, so I’ll just hold the door then eh?’
The Boss returned in full gear with the monster fogging machine in tow. I shut him in. After blasting the little room full of insecticide and smothering the nest in powder he passed the vanful of gear back out through the door and we shuffled down the stairs to apologise for:
- The nursery full of dead wasps
- The gaping hole in the wall
- The language.
We had a conversation with the lady about how lucky she’d been not to put her fist right through when she smacked the plaster…the wasps had worked right through it to extend the nest, there was just the plaster skin and a layer of paint left between them and the nursery. She promised never to smack a noise in the wall again and we left to recover from our exertions and try not to imagine what would have happened if.