I have long since asked myself – what is the point of wasps? I haven’t got a major problem with them, I just find them a bit bothersome. I’m not a flapper when wasps come close to me, although I do have many friends who are, some who would hunt them down and kill them with all the zeal of an American dentist; people who in normal circumstances are gentle and kind. This week Ian and Raphe had a wasp problem and they were determined to deal with them in as humane a way as possible.
The issue presented itself when Raphe decided he was going to arrange to have the outside of the house painted, a large nest was clinging to the drainpipe. According to the wasp experts in the road (Reg, Tom and Ken) this was either very good luck or very bad luck, depending on your disposition. Ken felt it was good luck because it was an advantage to see your enemy face to face, Reg and Tom disagreed, it was clearly bad luck because they could dive bomb you at any time. Both factions were agreed on one thing, they had to be eradicated, and each one could recommend a poison that could be used, or a wasp exterminator that could be employed, Raphe, however, was clear on this last point, they would be dealt with naturally. The wasp experts could offer no advice on this, apart from Tom who did suggest that the pain of wasp stings could be alleviated by rubbing the inside of a banana skin onto the offending site, Raphe assured him that this top tip would not be needed.
After trawling the internet Raphe came up with three different solutions to deal with the issue in a natural way, with no pesticides, poison, or, in his view, the worst idea, fire. Although Ian was willing to pander to his partner on the subject it was clear quite early on that he would prefer to ring someone else to deal with it, but as usual Raphe wanted to try first.
His initial idea and the kindest was to construct a dummy nest to hang nearby, he had read that wasps were territorial creatures and if they felt that another colony had moved in they would be likely to decamp elsewhere. Raphe set to with a copy of the Sun he had been given free in the Spar, some glue and a couple of old coat hangers. Now I hate to be pedantic but I have never known a wasp to use any wire in the construction of their nests, I have read that they are very clever architects, but coat hangers? I couldn’t help feeling that Ian and Raphe’s wasps may spot the fake. The end result looked like a badly made Chinese lantern with images of Madonna in fishnet tights and Kate and Wills on their latest royal visit. Raphe hooked the dummy near to the real nest and waited a few days for the mass exodus, not surprisingly it didn’t come.
The next idea was to trap the wasps and to release them away from the house. Ian couldn’t hold back, he suggested that the wasps would be likely to return to their original home and perhaps it would be kinder to kill them once they were trapped. Raphe found it hard to consider the words kind and kill in the same sentence without his hands flapping at his eyes, which were filling with tears. Ian, desperate to avoid a weepy partner, agreed with Raphe that he should give it a go, although he did find it hard to keep quiet when he was told that the tuna he had bought for dinner was going to be used as bait.
‘You can’t use a sweet bait, it will trap the bees, and we love the bees’, Raphe had clearly done his research.
The lure of Waitrose best tuna did nothing to encourage the wasps to enter the green plastic bottle, Raphe was down to his last plan. The foray would be carried out at night when all the wasps were home for the evening and it involved soapy water, a hose and spray and a headscarf to protect his face from angry, albeit clean wasps.
‘I’m not happy with this Raphe, what if you get stung, you know how sensitive your skin is, we’re at a wedding on Saturday, I don’t want to go with you looking swollen and puffy.’
By this time Raphe was feeling that he was in this particular battle on his own and suggested that Ian might like to join him at this stage of the advance, however his partner was too busy himself on the internet, researching local wasp killers.
The hot soapy water was duly squirted at the nest, although how he could see through the scarf which was wound tightly round his face I will never know. The wasps, however, were ready for the onslaught and in a military style campaign swirled around Raphe’s head, with some managing to penetrate the folds of his silk Hermes scarf.
At the same time as Raphe started shouting for some banana skins Ian had emailed a recommended wasp remover, it was finally agreed that perhaps the wasp experts had been right after all.