Don’t try this at home

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - EDITORIAL - Steve Bartlett The Deep End Steve Bartlett is an ed­i­tor with SaltWire Net­work. He dives in the Deep End Mon­day to es­cape re­al­ity and Euro­pean ear­wigs. Reach him at steve.bartlett@ thetele­gram.com.

The nest un­der the eave of my shed was gi­nor­mous, and I made the mis­take of googling “How many wasps in a nest?”

“A large nest can be home to 600,000,000.3 wasps,” the search re­sult read. “That army is pre­par­ing to at­tack you. Move to an­other hemi­sphere im­me­di­ately.” OK, the warn­ing wasn’t that dire but it did of­fer a re­minder of how wasps can get ag­gres­sive if dis­turbed.

Oh, I’ve been there.

A few years ago, dur­ing a wooded walk to a swim­ming hole on sum­mer va­ca­tion, my son dis­turbed a nest, and a swarm got up un­der my trunks and held St­ingFest 2015.

If a Steve screams in the for­est, does any­body hear? All res­i­dents and in- shore mariners along Canada’s east coast did that day. I got stung on the butt mul­ti­ple times and the ex­pe­ri­ence didn’t sit well for a cou­ple of days, which prob­a­bly ex­plains why I ab­so­lutely dreaded tack­ling the nest on the shed.

But it hov­ered over an area where my kids play, and wasps were fly­ing out of it when­ever some­one walked past.

It sim­ply had to go.

To do the job, I donned full wasp war­rior ar­mour — snow pants, leather mo­tor­cy­cle gloves and a black hoodie.

“Rob­bing a con­ve­nience store to­day, Steve?” the neigh­bours might ask.

“No,” I would tell them in a con­fi­dent, quiet Clint East­wood-like voice, “I’m going to make some­one’s day.”

East­wood’s Dirty Harry had a Smith and Wes­son. I had my daugh­ter’s Tim­Bits mini-soc­cer ball.

I threw it at the shed roof three times to gauge how the wasps re­sponded to a threat, and to get an idea how many might be in­side.

They re­acted with vigour — all 140,000 of them!

Clearly out­num­bered, I pon­dered knock­ing the nest down with a hockey stick … and then dozens (or more) of them fly­ing un­der my hoodie, sting­ing my neck and bald spot re­peat­edly.

“Hey Steve,” the cu­ri­ous would whis­per if that hap­pened. “Are those lit­tle fol­li­cles? Are you get­ting a hair trans­plant?

“No,” I would re­ply with de­feat. “Those are wasp stingers that got stuck. It’s ahhh … How’s Mil­dred any­way?”

I won­dered how to keep the wasps from swarm­ing and sting­ing, and was quite proud with my de­ci­sion — to turn on the hose and put the noz­zle on spray!

I tested this com­mon gar­den weaponry by throw­ing the Tim­Bits ball at the shed and spray­ing the wasps that came out.

The wa­ter muted their at­tack, so I kept spray­ing and spray­ing, ap­proach­ing the nest un­til di­rectly un­der it.

Count­less wasps flew out into the spray and re­treated from my shed.

I con­tin­ued hos­ing un­til they had all fled.

Turn­ing off the noz­zle, I stood, soak­ing wet but relieved, star­ing at the empty nest.

No more im­mi­nent threat to passersby, to my kids, their friends and my wah­zoo.

I found my­self re­ally wrestling with the con­cept of the empty nest though.

Some day my kids will leave and that will sting more than any wasp ever could.

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