Photo: A yellow jacket or paper wasp (Polistes sp.) nest on a ladder.
On the farm, we live very close to nature. An example of this happened today.
Susie, my wife, complained that the cellphone booster wasn’t working right. She thought Saturday morning’s storm might have misaligned it. Yes, we need a booster in order to get an approximation of reasonable cellphone service. Without one a turn of your head might cause loss of signal. No, that’s not caused by hardheads, although that might apply in Susie’s case… She calls me stubborn, but I think that’s a classic case of projection.
Anyway, the cellphone booster is mounted on a pole on the roof. Since going up onto the roof is much more common than you’d expect, I leave a 14 foot step ladder in place rather than lug it around every time a roof trip is necessary.
I climbed to the top of the ladder to step onto the roof when a searing pain struck my right thumb. Only one thing causes that pain; the sting of a yellow jacket (also known as paper wasp and a species in the genus Polistes). I’d placed my thumb in a nest under one of the top rungs. I thought of jumping, but there were obstacles on the ground that would have been unpleasant to fall into. (I defy my high school grammar teacher to gracefully rewrite that sentence avoiding ending with a preposition.) So, I rapidly descended rung by rung. Upon reaching the bottom I had suffered three more stings, two below the elbow and one in the rib cage. I let forth a string of curse words that would have made my maternal grandfather proud; he was world class curser in three languages.
Susie came out to see what the ruckus was about. When I told her, she said, “Kill the _____!” Now, I’m sort of Hindu (or is it Buddhist?) when it comes to animals. I walk around rattlesnakes, copperheads, and the like rather than kill them. I feel the same about stinging insects. I’d stuck my thumb into their nest; they were simply defending home, hearth, and offspring. Besides, wasps control many garden pests and are beneficial insects.
We live in the country. Wildlife teems. They were here first. The wasp nest shall remain.
I went to the warehouse and got another ladder. After placing it away from the wasps, I scaled the roof, and fixed the cellphone booster, which had indeed been rotated out of alignment by the storm.