The wasps are back.

All winter long, they’d been on the back of my mind, creeping and crawling like bad thoughts across my subconscious.

After what happened last summer, I thought they might stay away. Last summer, it was a war — me with my cans of Black Flag, they with their stingers and military-grade wings. We battled hard, the wasps and I, although neither emerged victorious.

I vanquished them from the old camper they had invaded, but for the remainder of the summer the specter of them haunted me. The simple fact that there MIGHT be a wasp creeping up behind me — or, dear God, crawling up my pant leg — ruined the camper experience altogether.

Mere shadows made me jump and kick-box the air. A shirt tag tickling the back of my neck would cause me to snatch myself nude and run shrieking into the nearest lake, pond or puddle.

If it was anything but wasps, I would have been all right. Had the camper been infested with snakes, I would have befriended the serpents and given each a funny name.

Had it been a pack of coyotes, I would have growled them down and assembled them as a security team.

Rats? No sweat. I like rats. Demented killers in clown paint? Screw those guys; my coyote guards will tear them to Day-Glo shreds.

But no. It was wasps and they bested me — psychologically if not physically — all through summer and into bleak fall.

For every one of us, there is that one thing that cannot be conquered in the mind. For some it’s heights, for others enclosed spaces, for many it’s mice, bats, spiders, cats, dogs, crowds, germs, birds, needles, blood or darkness.

There are people who are afraid of buttons, for crying out loud, and dolls and dentists and ducks. For me, it’s wasps; crispy-winged, low-built creepers who slip through cracks and crevices like miniature assassins.

One wasp would be just fine. I’d capture his butt in a jar and release him a mile away. Two wasps? Manageable. Five? Getting uncomfortable, but OK. We’re not going to panic. Open a window and shoo them away with wasp calls and offers of treats.

But these wasps came in battalions. During the great Wasp War of 2016, there were hundreds of them, winged fiends stationed strategically and hellbent on complete conquest of the old camper that had previously been so cozy.

I’d open a cupboard door and a dozen would come flying out. Sit down on the sofa and a pair would crawl up from the cushions like demons rising from insect hell. Crank open a window canopy and shazam! A cloud of wasps casting dark shadows over the rest of my day.

It got so that I’d spend entire days brooding about the wasps, even when I was far away from their mother ship. I would poll everybody I met, including baffled strangers, about their own dealings with pestilence.

“Hi there, random guy with potatoes and toilet paper in a Shaw’s checkout line. Say, have you ever had a problem with wasps? And if so, what did you do about it? I could really use some … Hey, where are you going?”

I scoured the internet searching for that simple yet fail-proof wasp remedy I’m convinced is out there in a secret corner of the web. Maybe wasps hate mustard so much that even a teaspoon of the stuff will keep them away. Or maybe it’s Tabasco sauce, dill weed or Enjoli perfume that does the trick.

I even considered the idea of finding out which animals love to eat wasps, and I don’t care if it’s an emu, an owl, a monkey or some deranged guy who hangs around outside the 7-Eleven. If it would eliminate wasps through sheer appetite, I would house that beast in the camper full time, and even put a little mint on its pillow each morning.

Alas, I found no such animal and no such magic. The tips I did try failed miserably. Flea collars? Vinegar? A crumpled paper bag? The wasps laughed so hard at those things, stuff flew out of their wasp noses.

Now it’s spring again and the wasps have returned, so much bigger, bolder and faster, I suspect they spent all winter in the gym and maybe dabbled with the ‘roids a bit. Couple that with the fact that wasps have been around for 65 million years and what chance does a relative newcomer like myself have against them?

That’s not rhetorical, by the way. I want answers, and in lieu of that, a flame thrower. Just sitting here thinking about the creatures, I have a crawling sensation in and about my pantaloons. I’ve already snatched myself nude half a dozen times just while scribbling out this column.

Although admittedly, a couple of times it was just for fun.

Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer. Just for fun, you can send buzzing wasp GIFs to [email protected]


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