“How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all this nonsense.”

― Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis

It was KM who spotted the activity behind the chair on our deck. “Wasp!” She let me know right away, as I am the designated killer of all fierce insects at our house. For that matter, any non-fierce types as well. Like roaches for example, which I don’t kill if I can help it and which, it seems to me, have gotten a lot speedier the last decade or so. Or maybe I’m slower. OK, much slower.

A week earlier I was telling the bug guy who comes around to spray, about the roaches. Let’s call him Gregor. He asked me what they looked like and I told him they look like a cockroach, once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, right? “Wrong,” Gregor said, as he peered out onto the deck and nodded as he saw the big elm tree whose limbs come close to the railing. “Probably tree roaches,” he said, as if I should be pleased, and invite them in for a bowl of chili.

After Gregor left I wanted more info and I read that cockroaches have been around since at least the Carboniferos Period, 320 million years ago. Of the 4,600 different species, only about 30 are around human habitats, and of those only about four are considered pests. I guessed my tree roach was one of those non pest types, based on Gregor’s take. But it became more disturbing as I read on. It seems that cockroaches can burrow into human ears, causing pain and hearing loss. If this happens, you can remove them with forceps, but it’s best to first drown them in olive oil. I would have to ask Gregor about that next time he came around.

“Wasp,” KM repeated, snapping me out of my earwig nightmare. I wondered how wasps felt about olive oil, as I pulled a broom from the closet, preparing to advance on the enemy. Wasps are one of the few insects I don’t play around with, meaning, basically, I don’t go to any great lengths trying to figure out a way to help them live. For almost any other bug, I will attempt a catch and release, so that they may live out their long, 48-hour life to its fullest. But there’s no reasoning with a wasp, so after seeing where they were constructing their newest nest, I jumped into action. It gave me confidence knowing KM had my back, three rooms over.

There they were, four of them, busily working on their new home, which so far was about the size of a golf ball. Three were busy building while the fourth hovered close by, the lookout. I had to move with stealth and speed, neither of which I possess. So I charged ahead, slamming the broom down and hitting the mark on my first attempt. I wasn’t going to wait around for their retaliation, which I knew would be swift. I turned and lunged for the open door, but not before slamming my shin into one of the iron patio chairs.

“$%*#*” came my reply, giving the angry buzzers some satisfaction, and I shut the door on them.  

KM had come out from the safety of her bunker just in time to hear my curses. It made her laugh. “OK, but when you need an earful of olive oil, don’t come knocking on my door!” I shouted.

“What are you talking about?” She asked.

“Never mind!”

I looked back outside and saw two wasps flitting about. Their future home lay broken on the deck. Higher above the railing more movement caught my eye and I saw that a group of bees were using my preoccupation with the wasps as an opportunity to raid the hummingbird feeder. And just like that, another mission needed to be planned.

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