No (Yellow)Jacket Required

Well. Today was interesting. Let me tell you all about it…

…starting with last night. 🙂

We’d had a nest of yellowjackets living in the siding outside our front door for a couple weeks and it hadn’t been a big deal: we rarely use that door (opting for the garage door instead) and they hadn’t been causing any real problems. Last weekend, the small group Bible study that meets in our home started back up again after summer break. This meant that we would begin using that door again, and we did. The study started in the early evening, when the activity in the nest seemed to be waning, and they hadn’t caused any trouble. That is, until last night.

Last night, two of the little devils made it into the house as people were leaving the Bible study and stung both Shannon and I. Nobody else was injured and Shannon and I were fine, but this act stirred in me the long overdue desire to do something about them. I had already tried spraying the entrance to the nest with little effect — the spray wasn’t about to soak into the house like it would an exposed hive and not enough went into the entrance to do much of anything. Last night, after everyone had gone, I tried rigging a straw up to the entrance to the nest with duct tape and shot the spray through the straw. It was a little more effective, but only a little. I left the duct tape in place and sealed the straw, vowing to do something about it in the morning.

In the morning, I vowed to do something about it that evening. 🙂 I would not have the luxury of waiting that long however…

After I had left for work, a well-meaning friend who was aware of our plight (and bites*) came over armed with some spray-foam insulation. Meaning to suffocate the nest, he pulled off my duct tape cover and shot some foam into the entrance to the nest. He had actually mentioned this option earlier, but I expressed concern that they would find another exit, potentially into the house. I figured that my duct tape cover, in the worst-case scenario, could be quickly pulled off, allowing the pests to escape via their usual means. That option was no longer an option.

And they did find another exit.

And it was into the house.

(Cue the horror movie trailer music) The insects were everywhere! Crowds of people were screaming, trying to escape the apian onslaught! (Cut the music)

Okay… they weren’t everywhere. They were mainly by the front door, trying to escape via the sidelights. And there were only five of them at the time. And the only person screaming and trying to escape was Shannon (but what she lacked in head-count she made up for with panic and volume. 🙂 )

Okay… she wasn’t screaming and trying to escape. Shannon actually handled it pretty well, considering that she was aware that there was a sealed yellowjacket nest feeding into the house. She immediately called me at work, telling me that there were yellowjackets in the house (by her count, five) and that she was taking herself and the girls to her parents’ house just down the road. I told her I was on my way and she said “Good, because there’s now ten yellowjackets in the house.” Oh, for joy.

I got to the house and looked around. There were now far more than ten of the little beasts in the house. Shannon had come back over to lend some moral support and pick up the girls schoolbooks. After discussing my game plan (which included *lots* of prayer by the whole family), she went back to her parents house and I got to work.

First, I found their entrance point (a small gap in the floorboards in the entryway) and slapped… you guessed it… more duct tape over it. Actually, it wasn’t so much a slap as it was a surgical operation, performed with a 10″ strip of tape, a straightened-out coat hanger, and a long piece of furring strip. That done, I set up “Grandpa Kipp’s Sure-Fire Yellow Jacket Trap!” — something I had read about when researching this problem earlier — to try to clear the insects in the house. After setting up my contraption within a couple feet of the front door (and 90% of the yellowjackets), I went to get suited up.

My impromptu bee-keeping costume
My impromptu bee-keeping costume

My amateur beekeeping outfit consisted of my usual undergarments, plus:

  • a t-shirt
  • long-johns, over the socks
  • blue-jeans (no holes!)
  • thick hiking socks, over the jeans
  • running shoes (if anything went awry, I certainly didn’t mean to hike, sneak, slip, or galosh…)
  • a hooded sweatshirt, tucked into the jeans, hood pulled to hide much of my face
  • a bigger sweatshirt over the hoodie
  • my winter gloves, under the sleeves of the bigger sweatshirt, and (wait for it) duct taped to the sleeve
  • leather work gloves over the winter gloves
  • my wife’s sun hat
  • (yes, I really said “my wife’s sun hat”)
  • and a mesh equipment bag over the hat and cinched around my neck

Anyway, once dressed, I went outside. I went into the crawlspace to make sure that I wasn’t dealing with some mammoth nest that weighed 200 pounds and was hiding under my house. I wasn’t. Not a sign of anything out of the ordinary under the house; it was all in the siding. Back out front, I approached the house, prybar in hand. I shoved the prybar under the siding near the nest entrance, pulled up slightly, and watched 6 to 8 yellowjackets quickly pour form the new openning. I then turned and ran like a little girl. I went back after a few seconds, pulled up again, and watched a few more come out. This time, I simply took a few manly steps backwards… none of that shrieking or anything. Then I thought, “This would be a perfect time to back inside to check the trap! Yeah, that’s it… to check the trap.”

The yellow jackets from inside the house

The trap was a bust. The little buggers were far too interested in trying to escape to the light outside to notice a big (wasted) hunk of mahi-mahi. (It was all we had.) Looking at my garb, however, I realized that I didn’t need no stinkin’ trap. I simply walked up to a bug covered sidelight, extended my double-gloved index finger, and started squishing. 68 yellowjackets later, the house was cleared of bugs and I had a newfound confidence with which to face the bugs outside.

These six combs came out of the wall of our houseWith the help of that confidence, a panel saw, the prybar, a few long sticks, and three different kinds of flying pest killer, I put a big hole in the house and removed the six “floors” of a nest from a void in the wall of the house. And all without a single sting! (I did, however, get to watch one particularly irritated specimen slam his rear end into my sweatshirt several times before I flicked him to oblivion. A very interesting sight, but not one I hope to see again soon.)

Final score? John, 68 plus everyone else outside; Yellowjackets, zilch. A complete shutout. Plus, in the 90° heat of a September afternoon with two sweatshirts, long-johns, and my wife’s sun hat, I think I lost a few pounds! 🙂 Praise our Merciful Lord that he answered our prayers with a hearty “Yes!”

Anyway, I’ve since patched the hole with a folded-up garbage bag and (everyone together now) duct tape. I’m hoping that fixing that will not be another tale-worthy episode, but with my luck…

– John

*(Shannon just pointed out to me that they were “stings”, not “bites”. But “stings” doesn’t rhyme, so… :P)

(Note: Shannon also made me a cake celebrating my exterminator’s prowess along with my 50-mile round-trip drive to Raleigh earlier that afternoon to fetch her accidentally forgotten purse.)

My reward for ridding the house of yellow jackets (and fetching Shannon's purse from Raleigh)
My reward for ridding the house of yellow jackets (and fetching Shannon’s purse from Raleigh)