I am not afraid of snakes or mice or other things that skitter and slither around. I am not intimidated by cows or horses or really big dogs. I think big fat bumble bees are a pretty sight as they dance from flower to flower.
But show me a wasp or hornet and I’ll head in the opposite direction.
As a child, I was walking with several classmates in the woods behind our school in Lino Lakes when someone stepped on a ground hornet nest. Robert Leroux, another classmate, hustled all us girls to safety and bore the brunt of the stings. Our hero! We sighed over him for weeks afterward in the way that only a 12-year-old girl can.
Several years ago is when my very healthy respect for wasps came into play. I laugh about it now, thinking how I must have looked, but it was scary at the time.
I had just gotten home from work on a pretty summer day. I could hear the kids out in the back yard, so I headed out back to say hi before even going into the house. I was wearing a denim overall dress, an important factor in this little story. You see, as I walked toward the back, I passed our camper and just then something flew into my face.
Without thought, I batted it away with my hand, but knocked my glasses off in the process. Another factor — my eyesight is absolutely terrible without my spectacles. I can’t see two feet in front of my face.
I saw a medium-sized blur heading toward me and recognized the voice of my youngest son Matt, who was about 9 or 10 years old at the time.
“Stop!” I ordered, not wanting my glasses trampled.
I batted something else away from my face, then bent over to pick up my glasses. Big mistake. Because a horde of angry wasps flew up my dress.
They were flying all around me also, and the dance I was doing must have caught my neighbor’s attention as she hung laundry in her yard, because she came hurrying over and realized I was sightless and floundering. She grabbed my hand and led me into my own house. I was unbuckling my overall straps as we went, and the minute I got inside I dropped my dress to the floor. There I was in my kitchen in nothing but a t-shirt and underpants as my neighbor slapped and stomped at the wasps that had gotten caught in my dress. There were still a few inside my t-shirt which she quickly dispatched.
This process, you understand, was not a quiet one. I was swearing and yelling, she was slapping and stomping and the kids were hollering in the windows to ask if I was all right. The usual Wettschreck chaos with a little extra twist.
When all the wasps that had made it inside the house via my clothing had been vanquished, my neighbor started checking me for stings. She found quite a few. I had been stung about 20 times and was feeling light-headed and woozy, so I promptly sat down in the middle of the kitchen floor. It seemed like the right thing to do at the moment. I have been stung before and knew I wasn’t allergic, so I figured I just had to ride out the wave of nausea that was sweeping over me.
Not a fun ride, but not a lot of alternatives.
I did feel pretty horrible for the rest of the day, and the stings were painful for a few days. But eventually I was fine. My little hero Matthew had rescued my glasses from the ground and I managed to get in touch with my husband Eric before he left work that day. He came home armed with wasp killer spray.
The darned things had built a nest between the screen and slightly open window on our camper, and I had blundered right into a swarm of the nasty little monsters on my way past. I’m glad it was me that got attacked and not one of the kids, but I have done my best to keep my distance from them ever since.
Bad bad wasps.