Yellow jackets take the battle, but in the end they lose the war

Yellow jackets take the battle, but in the end they lose the war

Several weeks ago, inspired by the screams of one of my buddies after he was stabbed in the bicep by a yellow jacket as we rode the mountain bike trail, I did a bit of research and wrote a piece on the perpetually angry insects.

It turns out life is tough at this time of year for the little black and yellow fellows as, after a summer of faithful servitude to their queen, they have been summarily discharged from duty and sent out into the world to (loosely paraphrasing a country song here) live like they are dying — because, well, they are.

Sadly, my empathetic depiction of an insect that, through no fault of its own, has found itself living on the streets and scavenging pizza crusts and hot-dog buns from picnic area trash cans was apparently met with broad disapproval by those of the waspish ilk. Since the story’s publication, I have been the target of a concerted effort by members of the yellow jacket clan to take me down.

The first attack came just days after the press run as I was pedaling happily down a trail drenched in September sunshine with my jersey generously unzipped at the top to draw a cooling breeze. In retrospect I may have presented too easy a target. My assailant shot straight for the bull’s-eye, leaving a welt the size of a C cup in the center of my chest. A cold bicycle water bottle shoved down the front of my jersey allowed me to ride out the attack without tears, but my oddly aerodynamic profile did elicit a few double-takes along the trail the rest of the way home.

Word spread quickly amongst the wasp nation that the job had been botched, and the angry arthropods redoubled their efforts, this time dispatching groups of three or four hitmen at a time. They caught up to me midweek at a farm where I would be working for the next three days. I had barely stepped out of the truck when a recon squad buzzed me from head to toe, hovering with venomous intensity as I resisted the urge to scream, swat and run. After a few moments, they left without incident, but it seemed clear the scouts were gathering information, looking for soft spots and searching for my greatest vulnerabilities.

I can see the yellow jacket command team in the situation room, pouring over the data, antennae twitching as the ranking officer thoughtfully strokes his mandible with a tiny clawed foot.

“We can exact the greatest long-term damage by destroying his mobility,” he says, pointing at a wasp-sized diagram of the human body with an evil twinkle in each of the thousands of facets of his compound eyes. “We’ll strike for the knees!”

Cheers arise from the winged phalanx and lay their trap for the following day.

I was onsite for less than 10 minutes when three yellow jackets swarmed me midleg while one drilled me just above the kneecap. Pain, followed by the requisite swatting and swearing, left me swollen but far from surrender. A co-worker laughingly suggested the yellow jackets were trying to destroy my ability to pedal a bicycle. The following day proved their plan was no joke as a second squad nailed me in the very same spot on the opposite knee.

The best I can do at this point is lay low — with ice packs on both knees — and wait for the thermometer to lay the yellow jacket army to waste. One good frost and they’re goners. Time and Mother Nature are on my side.

Kristin and John Lorson would love to hear from you. Write Drawing Laughter, P.O. Box 170, Fredericksburg, OH 44627, or email John at jlorson@alonovus.com.