Big thank you from

Half a century spent battling against an old enemy

with plenty of sting in tail

by THE RAMBLER 04/10/02

THE scholars say that a protagonist and an antagonist are the essentials of a short story.

If that is so, then I am on a firm foundation today.

For at least half-a-century, I have been at war with those charming little insects known as wasps.

I have never liked them since I was stung 13 times, in a flash, when I sliced a wasps' nest accidentally, with a billhook, in my mother-in-law's garden at Antrim Road, circa 1950.

I must have covered the 20 yards from the nest to the kitchen door in record time, but the antagonists stayed with me. Once inside, my shirt came off in a tangle, and the attackers were quickly despatched.

Soon my frontage was well decorated with mother-in-laws blue bag.

Happily, I suffered no after-effects but, naturally, I have ever since worked out other methods than a bill-hook to deal with swarming wasps. When they took over a ditch in my own garden and survived all the chemicals at my disposal, I made a nocturnal attack.

I rammed a length of soft cotton rope into the hole where the wee dears slept, with an iron rod I had the rope saturated with creosote. Then I set fire to it and enjoyed the way the fire penetrated the wasp's nest.

Next morning peace reigned, all dead. A couple of years ago, my old friends invaded a downpipe where they built a nest close to my bathroom window. I tried boiling water and various chemicals to dislodge them, but all in vain. Then a pest control expert advised me to get a canister of wasp poison.

When the little dears were asleep, I carefully anointed the exit from the nest with the poison. Next day I spied a steady stream of wasps arriving home, circling around and entering.

I left them alone till night came again. Then I re-anointed the exit/entrance.

Next day a few insects emerged in a dazed condition, but on the third day no signs of life remained. Another round won. This year, they were back. They took over the vicinity of the bin and established supremacy.

I felt sorry for the poor wee things (like heck) so I decided to pamper them. I got a 500ml glass bottle and poured a measure of honey into it, put the cap on it and shook it well, cap downwards, to coat the inside of the neck with honey. Then I removed the cap, inserted a little jam and an over-ripe grape, plus a measure of hot water to keep the honey moist and provide a swimming pool.

I stood the bottle in the sun near the bin and went about my business. (I actually forget all about it).

Next morning, I noticed a steady stream of wasps exploring the inside of the jar, all one-way traffic, none leaving, too sticky to fly out
Next day was overcast. Not a wasp in sight. I assumed they had stayed at home.

But not so, not a wasp re-appeared for days. Instead the bottle held a deep collection of insects, hundreds trampling each other down! I wished them a happy death, filled the bottle with water, corked it and sent it off to the landfill.

That is the end of the story. Wasp-loving members of the community will surely recommend my careful avoidance of cruelty to the poor wee mites - sweet dreams.

Ulster Star