Kieran McClung
cover image for My weekend with the wasps
6 min read

My weekend with the wasps

The day is Thursday. It's a weekday, which already renders the title of this post a mistruth. My eldest daughter asks to go to the bin. If you're assuming this post to be a tale of mystery, you'd, quite rightly, think the mystery takes its turn now. Alas, my daughter just likes to take things to the bin. So far, so normal then. We take the recycling to the bin and, upon our arrival, we notice a pesky wasp perched atop, staring us in the eyes.

“Look at that pesky wasp staring us in the eyes”, I say.

My daughter, who isn’t the biggest fan of wasps, makes known her disapproval of the insect. But as I lift the lid, it buzzes away into day. All is right with the world.

Friday follows, because that’s how days work, and another family outing to the bin is on the cards. This time we have a platter of bin offerings: mixed recycling, nappies and general food waste. It’s quite the haul and one that will surely go down in the annals of McClung bin trips. My daughter and I hop gaily to the bins, arms filled with bin food. But upon our arrival, we see the wasp has returned and this time it's brought with it a couple of friends. At this point in the tale we’re only dealing with a fistful of wasps but enough for me to pass mention to my wife. She half-listens because, let’s face it, I’m telling her there are some wasps near a bin. It’s hardly worthy conversational material, especially in an eleven-year relationship. But come the next day, she'll wish she heeded my warning.

Saturday. We’d arranged to visit the zoo and after an incredibly stressful week at work, not helped by the impending waspcident, it would serve as a much-needed escape. The plan was to leave the house at 9 am so we naturally ended up leaving at 10:30 am because we have two kids and fuck being able to do anything on time. But as we hurriedly made our way to the car, the problem made itself known. I should mention at this point that our bins are situated next to our driveway, the location is kind of integral to this part of the story. The wasps had returned and brought even more friends to the party. These friends were rowdy lads. Unlike the docile wasps of yesterday, these fancied a chance at facing us head-on.

"There are wasps everywhere!", said my wife.

"I bloody told you that last night!", I smugly replied.

These new additions proved to be a problem. It takes a short while to get my youngest buckled into the car and she was sitting bin-side. It left us both exposed to wasp attacks and the car prone to invasion. We had to move. Move the car, that is.

That evening I sat down, thinking about what had happened earlier that day. These wasps were no longer an inconvenience when filling our bins. They were causing us problems in other areas (another area) of our life. So I did what any self-respecting dad would do; I took to Google.

"How to get rid of wasps".

Thousands of results returned.

I eventually stumbled upon wasp traps, a reasonably priced contraption for catching and killing wasps. It was at this point I was at a quandary. You see, I'm not a big fan of harming animals, you'll be pleased to hear. I go out of my way to not hurt them. I once spent 10-minutes in the shower trying to tactically rescue a spider from drowning. My attempt was unsuccessful and I was left riddled with guilt for the following week. Hell, I won't even kill an animal in a video game. I will, however, mow down corridors of people without hesitation which probably speaks volumes for my psyche. After, admittedly very little, deliberation I decided that this was the best course of action. Enough was enough. The wasps had to go.

Whilst these traps were reasonably priced, my other dad sense kicked in. I could bloody make one! I've got a bottle, I've got the other bits. It was on. At 10 pm, I took to the shed grabbing tape, twine, my trusty knife and my Volvic water bottle (other water bottles are available). After a lot of cutting, stabbing and sliding the bottle into itself, the wasp trap was built! I immediately realised the aperture of the bottle was too wide so I had to deconstruct it and put the lid back on the bottle with a smaller hole cut into it. Now it was on! At 11 pm I mixed my sugar solution, filled the trap and set it in the tree.

I awoke on Sunday with a spring in my step. The horror was sure to be over. I confidently swaggered over to my trap to see the spoils. Nothing. Not a single wasp was caught. The trap was perfectly constructed so something else must have been at fault. I took to Google again.

"Wasp trap bait"

It turns out, based on one website that I quickly scan-read, that wasps prefer protein during Spring and Summer and sugar in the colder seasons. It was recommended that luncheon meat or a burger be used as bait. I had neither to hand (and, yes, it was a US site), so I dismissed the advice and doubled down on the sugar. I emptied my virgin sugar water and substituted it for a cocktail of jam, sugar, honey, vinegar and water. The vinegar is meant to deter Bees and, quite frankly, at this point, if all I'd managed to do is kill a bee, I'd no longer be able to live with myself. I reset my trap and within minutes, I'd caught my first victim. It was working!

I spent the remainder of the morning peeking through the kitchen window, looking over the garden gate to see if the trap had claimed another victim. It was too far to make anything out but that didn't stop me pacing back and forth, stretching my neck to steal a look. Eventually, I went out to the trap to get a close-up assessment and the results were mixed. The good news; my wasp catch count had doubled. For those that are counting, that's now two. The bad news was that the general wasp count had also doubled. The bins were now swarming with wasps and my introduction of a death trap had really pissed them off. It's quite possible my sugary poison had attracted more wasps but you'll not see me admitting that.

Now they were circling my head, buzzing and colliding with me while I tried to do my recycling. One even flew directly into my face and reflexes caused me to reach out and punch it square in the jaw. Can I with 100% confidence say my fist met its jaw? No. But contact was made and I've never felt more powerful (before I quickly ducked my head down and ran back to the house while ruffling my hair with my hands).

It was clear that the trap was working to a degree but the volume of wasps was ever-increasing. Something else had to be done but I was at my limit. I'd already done two Google searches. My wife had contacted a pest control expert who really stretched the definition of expert.

This has never happened in the 10 years we've lived in this house so something must've changed. And then I had an M. Night realisation. Earlier that week, pre wasps, I noticed the car was covered in tree sap. I'd dismissed it as annoying sticky residue but it made me think. If the car was covered in it, so too would the bins. It was always about the bins. I took yet another trip to the bins and, lo and behold, the lids were caked in the stuff. An upon further inspection the wasps were lapping it up like gummy crack. That must be it!

If Game of Thrones taught me anything it's that an ending doesn't have to be good. So here we are. It's Sunday evening and I've spent it washing down the lids of my bins with soapy water. Will this have been in vain? Will I reign triumphant over the wasps? I have the answer to neither question but one would come to the conclusion that the wasps have already won. I spent Saturday evening building a crude trap with the drinks bottle I use for work. Tomorrow I go thirsty. I spent my Sunday evening washing the bins in the dark. My weekend has been ruined by the wasps.

This has been my weekend with the wasps and it's one that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

Featured image by Sigmund on Unsplash