August 12th…“WHAT WAS THE WILDEST TIME YOU EVER HAD IN DEALING WITH STINGING INSECTS?”
It was gonna be either ME or the BEE…..well, in this case they were hornets. My opinion is worth just 2 cents, but from my angle, hornets are the “Nasty Neds” of the stinging world. They seem to have a yearning to do battle with anyone or anything that gets near them.
Throughout the tenure of my 31 years of custodial service in the Battle Ground School District, by far the happiest of those years were spent as Head Custodian at Glenwood Heights Primary School. We were a real family of staff, students and community there!
It was only natural then, to lovingly guard my “family” from harm as the day came along when a very large hornet nest was discovered in the courtyard between the wings of our U-shaped school facility. Hundreds of children (some allergic) were at risk of being stung, so someone had to do something…….the job fell to me.
In my days as a custodian, we were expected to give first responder service whether that was in trying to fix the roof, a toilet or, in this case, try to kill a giant nest of these over-sized cousins to a wasp. Hornet’s nests are shaped like a football (of sorts) and this one was easily TWICE the size of a big football. There it was, up in that Birch Tree with, who knows how many, hundreds of hornets inside. What would be my plan of action and how could I keep from getting multiple stings to my “tender parts” in the process of eliminating this menace?
In checking my armory, I found two full cases of long-shot, kill on contact, insecticide. This chemical cannonry had an aerosol bazooka strength that fired a jet stream of killer poison up to 20 feet away. Thankfully, on that exciting day, I had worn a thick leather jacket to school, so that was my first piece of armor to go on my body. Next came leather gloves and safety glasses. I then zip-tied my pants legs shut, so no bad guys would fly up my legs to sting me in regions that REALLY mattered 😉 And, to “top” things off, I just happened to have a thick winter cap with ear flaps that I put on with the ear flaps covering my ears.
Just like an Army General, I developed and carried out my “plan of attack”. It was already the warm month of May, and with my battle gear all in place, I was already drenched in sweat with all this “armor” that I was wearing. But, I figured, “an ounce of prevention is worth a POUND of cure”. So, out to the battle ground I marched with my two full cases of long shot spray. I shook up the contents of at least 8 cans of hornet spray to have them pre-charged as I went into this foray with the hornets.
As the battle commenced, my attack consisted of always having a can of killer spray in each hand and double-firing them into the nest openings. Hornets began dropping from the nest like a waterfall, but many of them escaped and were dive-bombing me from all directions!!! As a can of killer spray went empty, I’d toss it far away from the area and pick up another “gun” from the case and continue firing away at these little sky devils. I was spinning in circles as I’d hit the closest attackers with a blast and see him “bite the dust”…..all the while, with each body spin, I’d still be firing into the main portal of the hornet nest to soak it with killer juices.
The noise was impressive as hundreds of these fierce sky fighters buzzed past my ears on their attempt to kill this giant attacking human. I emptied at least a dozen, or more, cans of insecticide before the final warriors of that nest were either on the ground dead, or had flown away from the area in defeat. When the nest no longer showed signs of life, I used long-handled pruners to cut it down from the tree and threw it away in our dumpster to be hauled away the next morning.
Amazingly, I had not suffered even one sting in the course of the battle. My only only consequence from that mini-war was a very fast heart rate and being completely soaked in sweat from the various components of “armor” I had been wearing. That was one ZINGER of an adventure for this Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉