Friday, November 22, 2013

Urban Warfare...

Well over a year ago now, Elli and I thought we should move. We were hemming and hawing over this decision for a while, looking at other options, running some numbers, but not really committing. Then while reading to Daven and Hannah one night, a chunk of plaster fell from the ceiling and hit me on the head.

Time to move.

But that falling plaster also pointed out that there was many many things that we needed to update and patch up with that old house to get it marketable and sell for an absurd amount of money. This involved endless hours of painting, scraping, fixing, correcting, polishing, scrubbing, rotating, and renting a storage garage to declutter, and then renting another one because you filled up the first one.

And endless mowing of the lawn.

Thankfully mother nature took over and blessed us with a drought thus stunting the growth of the grass. Here's what it looked like once it did it's scorching goodness:

But you'll notice that there's a shady spot of the lawn. That damn large tree blocked most of the sun all day. As such, that spot did still need to be mowed occasionally.

So, on one of those short outings to buzz down the lawn, I was right around the trunk of the large tree pictured above when I noticed a yellow jacket buzzing around. I flailed at it as per my usual knee jerk response when it comes to one of these cursed creatures and quickly moved along. I was then coming back on approach to roughly the same area when I noticed yet another f'ing yellow jacket buzzing around. But this time it had a friend...and another one. I noticed they were keeping low to the ground so I didn't think anything of it other than once again pass by quickly. On the 3rd approach I noticed what I was slowly suspecting over the last lap. There was a steady stream of yellow jackets going down to the ground and coming back up. But not just buzzing around the ground and then flying away, they were going into a hole in the ground and another one would come flying back out.

 I had a underground yellow jacket nest.


At first I wanted to ignore it. "Maybe it's not really a hive. Maybe it was just a fluke thing and one or two or 17 of them were cruising on by and happened upon the hole and wanted to check things out but then decided this wasn't for them and moved on." At about the time I was staring out the big window you see in the pic above, probably pale and sweating profusely, Elli asked what I was doing.

"I think we have a yellow jacket nest in the ground." I said.

"How do we get rid of that?" she asked.

"Let's leave them alone and ignore the problem." I answered.

As usual she was the rationale one with things like this and said it would look bad to prospective buyers if while they were checking out the side yard they were swarmed by yellow jackets. Probably not conducive to selling.

But I had never tackled an underground nest before. My only experience with combating bees were nests up in trees or under roof awnings and with those you can blast the little bastards with a can of raid safely from 45 feet away. This was going to require a much closer hand to hand method. 

So, since the Internet knows some things other than weird sexual positions, I started researching DIY methods of ridding the planet of some yellow jackets. Some suggestions included setting up a shop vac next to the entrance and letting the bees get sucked into the canister with some insecticide solution waiting for them. Problem with this is that it takes a long time and after you think you're done hopefully all those damn things are dead when you pop the top of the canister off. Otherwise you have a pissed off stinging problem to deal with. Another solution was smoking them out and then burying the entrance. Problem with this one is that it was tough to tell if they all were left and if the queen was still around the little shits can dig their way back out and you'd be back to square one.

One of the most intriguing ideas I came across was the "Redneck Napalm attack", in which you pour a shit ton of gasoline down the hole, light it, and run away while the whole thing ignites and shoots flames out of the hole in spectacular glory. Obviously this idea was concocted by a group of people who were both related and married to one another and have a combined IQ of a water pitcher. However, I must admit I thought about this one long and hard, and it was repeated by several people. But the flaw in this one was that the fire it causes was so quick and sudden that although most of the yellow jackets would die fiery deaths (which gave me pause to smile) some of them would survive the blast and recolonize an again, you'd be at square one.

But then I came across an "avid hemp user" who claimed to be an expert in the massacring of yellow jackets with something like 40+ hives destroyed without a single sting. I settled on this one because it seemed the most logical and also something I'd be willing to do. So, armed with this Sensei of Cannabis' advice, I set out to the hardware store to acquire the only thing I needed that I didn't have on hand:

For sissies who want to kill shit from far far away.

The other items I would need would be a bucket full of sand, a little bit of gasoline or motor oil, a tamper, and some courage. I also made a case for the following:

Something tells me any or all of these would've attracted unwanted attention, so they were begrudgingly scrubbed from the plan.

Under the cover of darkness, I launched my assault. First step of the plan was to take out the scout. This was a yellow jacket that stayed at the entrance of the hole during the night time hours and would alert the rest of the clan if danger arose. I was assured by my pot smoking guru that even though the scout would be awake he would be exceedingly sluggish and easy to take out. This is where the bottle of raid came in. I was to sneak up, douse the scout with raid and continue spraying into the hole for a few additional seconds to eliminate any other bees slightly farther down. After all, accordingly to this guy sometimes there are multiple scouts and any one of them could sound the alarm. So, very nervously and carefully, while wearing all black and armed with a green light (which would allow me to maintain my night vision should I have to dash away in a panic), I approached the entrance to hell itself, i.e. the hole in the ground. Circling it very carefully I did not see any scout. All was quite. I even waiting a heartbeat or two before proceeding. But right when I was about to pull the trigger I wimped out and ran back to the garage. "This is stupid. It's me we're talking about so something is going to go wrong with this plane and I'm going to be stung to hell and back and not be any better off." But the guy gene got the best of me, and I couldn't go cowering back into the house with business undone. 

So I marched back out with the intent of getting things done.

Once again I ninja stalked up to the hole, saw no scout, and positioned myself so that the stream would go down the straightest path. Pulling the safety on the can of bee killer I pressed the button and released it's toxic components. Pot guy said to spray for around 15 seconds. I emptied the hole damn can.

But that's just the start. That takes out only the first line of defense. That does nothing to the collective hive writhing about under foot. To get those shitheads, pot guy suggested pouring gas or motor oil down the hole. Once you get some of that down there you seal it off with a pile of dirt thus locking in all the choking fumes and killing off all living things down the hole. And yes you hippies I realize this is damaging to the environment but that's something I'm ok with doing in this situation. If I had to choose eliminating a hive of bees at the cost of 15 puppies there would be less Sparkies running around that year. 

So, with the can of toxic bee sauce down the way I ran back to where my small gas can was. I then sprinted back to the hole fully expecting a swarm of raid-resistant yellow jackets waiting for me. Thankfully there was none and I poured a healthy dose down the way. Next I sprinted back to where I had a play bucket full of sand waiting. Running back with that in one hand and my tamper in the next, I unloaded the sand and swatted it down a few times to pack it all in tight. However, I added my own stamp to the process and sprinkled a bunch of carpenter ant killer all over the dirt. I read on multiple postings these guys are great diggers, so I figured any that survived the gas deluge and tried to crawl out would choke on the ant killer. I then ran back into the safety of the garage and waited 15 minutes. Then, again ninja stealth like, went back out with the light to see if anything was making it's way out.

Nothing. Perhaps I won this fight after all.

The next day I checked the area multiple times from the safety of the window and even ventured out from time to time to make sure nothing was making it's way out. And at around noon I declared victory. Sadly no one in my house acknowledged this decisive win.
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