Monday, April 11, 2011

Of Wasps and Weirdos

Last night we had a wasp in our house.

No, not him.
Now, Precocious Daughter is not a fan of wasps.  I've seen her run the 100-yard dash in under 10 seconds when she thought one of the little devils was after her.  Show her a wasp's nest tucked under the eaves of your front porch, even a tiny one, and you've effectively banished her from crossing the threshold (I provide this information as a service to the long-suffering parents of her friends). Every bug she sees goes through a thorough vetting process to ensure it's not a you-know-what but is presumed to be one until proven otherwise.

She doesn't like wasps, is what I'm trying to say.  So finding one hovering near the ceiling of the family room was not a high point of the evening for her.  Nor, by extension, for me.

As far as PDaughter is concerned, this wasp is shown actual size.
The thing is, I don't like the damn pests, either.  When I was PDaughter's age I had an extreme phobia of bees, wasps, hornets, and anything else that could stick a stinger in me.  Despite the fact that the only time in my life I've actually been stung was once when I was flailing my arms and basically forced a bee's stinger into me, I was convinced that the members of the order Hymenoptera were out to get me and only me.  It was insectile paranoia on a grand scale.

My hysteria has abated somewhat over the years, but I wholly sympathize with PDaughter's fear and loathing of wasps and their ilk.  Besides, I'm the mom now, and I can't very well join her as she runs around like a chicken with its head cut off whenever she hears something buzzing.  I have to be reassuring and mature, which it turns out is the suckiest part of being a mom most days.  Especially when it comes to being nonchalant about goddamn wasps in your family room.

Now, it's bug season in Texas, which is defined as the eleven months between January and January (January itself being relatively free of insect infestations, except when it isn't).  There are flying critters everywhere, and most of them spend their days trying to figure out how to get inside our house.  It's unusual, however, for wasps to come indoors.  At least it is in our house, where a wasp is likely to become a cat toy.  On Saturday I noticed our Siamese batting at a bug - nothing out of the ordinary, as she typically supplements her diet with protein in the form of flies, beetles, and whatever she finds lurking behind the toilet.  But this time she was playing footsie with a wasp.  Although she seemed to be winning the game, I still called on Beloved Spouse to relieve her of her sharp-ended playmate.

Cheaper than an exterminator, and twice as cute.
Unfortunately, when the second wasp of the weekend appeared last night, PDaughter assumed it was an invasion.  She was probably right, but you know:  reassuring and mature.  So instead of agreeing with her, I told her everything was fine and it wasn't going to hurt her.  I felt like the girl in the Friday the 13th movies who is invariably known as "Jason's Next Victim."

Still, she decided she was fine with watching TV from the kitchen, and I was left to provide wasp updates.   This consisted of looking up at the ceiling fan every few minutes to confirm that our friend was still there.  Fortunately, this was the most non-threatening wasp I've ever seen.  In three hours, it took wing exactly once, for a lazy spin around the ceiling, and spent the rest of the time clinging upside-down to the base of the fan.  It even looked bored.  So while I wasn't thrilled to be sharing my family room with a wasp, I had to admit that I've had much less considerate roommates in my day.

Good thing, too, because at a height of 10 feet or so, the ceiling fan is well beyond my reach.  And BelSpouse wasn't home to save us from the winged menace.  So it was the nervous girls vs. the docile wasp, and I'm glad to say it was a standoff by mutual consent.

The end of the story is satisfyingly anticlimactic.  BelSpouse got home and nudged our guest with a broomstick to make it take wing, and when it landed at a point halfway down the wall, he smacked it just hard enough to stun it and released it outside.  And we all lived happily ever after.

But the next time a wasp gets in and perches up high, I think I may send the cat airborne to get it.

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