Man Vs. Wasp


At last the story can be told. It’s a tale of horror, pain, insects and payback. And it’s all true.

I knew something was up when the dog started submitting to his bath voluntarily. Normally the sound of the shower curtain sliding across the rod would send Houdini rocketing out the doggie door and into his dog house on the back porch, where he’d lay on his blanket and peer out through the opening, daring anyone to come extract him like a barnacle from a piling.

But early in the summer he quit the dog house. Wouldn’t go in there for any reason. I discovered why when I was sweeping the porch one day and saw a wasp disappear into the seam at the bottom corner of the doghouse. Then another. And another.

A humiliating bath is preferable to a wasp sting any day.


Their nest looks like a welcome mat, but these wasps didn’t count on a visit from me.

It was a terrible summer in Missoula for wasps, hornets and yellow jackets. I couldn’t tell them apart, but I wanted them all dead. By August we had to give up on all outdoor meals. I’d lay out a nice barbecue dinner on the patio table, and the meat bees or gristle hornets or whatever the hell they are would swarm the scene like frat dudes at a VD clinic, making it impossible to enjoy. I’d go inside to fetch the pepper grinder, and when I came back out my pork chop would be gone from my plate. (Evidently Missoula wasn’t the only place that saw a rise in the number of killer insects–check out this very spooky story.)

So whatever stinging critters had taken up residence in Houdini’s doghouse, their days were numbered. I would destroy them with extreme prejudice. I would fall back on my superior intelligence, and my superior firepower.

I was hell bent for vengeance because one of them had already nailed me. I was walking across my lawn one afternoon, and suddenly I felt the pain of Satan’s own scepter shooting a bolt of lightning into my big toe. I screamed like a 4-year-old in a haunted house and set a new world record for the high jump from a standing position. Have you ever tried to yank off a pair of Chacos really fast? One strap wraps around your big toe, which I suppose is designed to keep you from tripping over the threshold of the head shop. I hopped around on one foot trying to pull off the damn sandal, while the wasp continued to pump several quarts of habañero juice directly into my toe.

This aggression would not stand, man.


I would fall back on superior intelligence, and superior firepower. In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, au revoir, wasp.

I drove to my friendly neighborhood hardware store and told the sales clerk in the poison aisle that I needed to kill every wasp on the planet. She showed me a can of non-toxic pest spray that was made out of peppermint oil and unicorn farts or something, designed to be safe around pets and children while not harming the environment.

I slapped it out of her hands. “I don’t care about collateral damage, sister. I need the hard stuff. These. Wasps. Must. Die.” She looked down at the swollen big toe on my bare foot. Then she pointed at the top shelf, which contained products by Raid and Black Flag. Next to that was something called Swarmageddon Wasp & Hornet Doom Blast. I grabbed two cans of it. She touched her earpiece and said into her mic, “Okay, I’ll be right there,” and walked quickly away. I don’t believe she was really paged.

My big toe was killing me, and my whole foot had started to ache. I needed badly to prop it up and start applying Red Hook internally, but I vowed to postpone that relief until my whole family was safe from the black and yellow menace that threatened to destroy our way of life. Plus any grilling. I drove home and suited up.

While I was gone they’d struck again. Houdini was limping around, and I inspected his front paw and it looked like he’d grown an extra toe. Obviously a sting. Poor guy had probably just moseyed into a corner of the yard to process some dog food, and got nailed by another sneaky little bastard lurking in the grass.

I gave him a treat to take his mind off the pain, and brought him inside. Then, after covering every exposed part of my body except for the tip of my nose, I made sure all doors and windows were closed and locked.


I hope those yellow jackets you’re wearing are rain slickers, ’cause here comes a downpour of death!

Sure, they could probably sting me right through my shirt or pants or whatever, but my suit of armor was at the cleaners. I’d have to hit them quick and get the hell out of there.

After a few exploratory sprays into the interior of the doghouse to locate the nest, I noticed the wasps were still crawling into that little corner seam. And they noticed me. I did a couple of laps around the yard, strafing the doghouse several times. Then while they were confused, I tipped the doghouse up on its side.

Bingo. There was the nest, under the floor of the doghouse. It was as big as a Frisbee, a couple inches thick and looked like it was woven out of carpet fibers. Textile wasps. The bigger, more durable cousin of the paper wasp.
As I was running through the yard, I tried to read the directions on the side of the can of Wasp & Hornet Doom Blast. It said to use the spray in the early morning, when the insects were inactive. Well, that certainly worked at Pearl Harbor, but it was much too late for that now. These bad boys were riled up and feeling very stabby.

I gave them a half hour to calm down and get back to their carpet weaving. I checked on Houdini’s paw. He assured me another treat was indicated. I took the sneaker off my right foot to give my big toe some air. I drank a Red Hook.


Come on, I was only kidding around! No hard feelings. Where’s my spray?

Thus fortified and protected, I sallied forth into battle, “The Final Countdown” playing in my head. I squared my shoulders, shook the cans of aerosol death, and let them have it full blast. The colony went all Tokyo-in-a-Godzilla-movie, wasps emerging from the nest all panicky only to drop dead onto the concrete. A few outliers circled my head, a couple settling onto the long sleeves covering my arms. One crawled right across the front of my safety goggles. I peed a tiny bit.

The kitchen door slid open a few inches, and my wife said, “What’s with all the screaming?” I guess my inner Rambo had emerged. She closed the door and I tossed aside the empty can, laying down a stream of suppressing fire with the second one. They never had a chance.

The dog house is, of course, uninhabitable. A few days later, when the survivors finally quit returning to the scene of the chemical ethnic cleansing, I dragged the structure out to the field behind the house. The dead nest is still attached, a testament to the winner of this epic battle. I plucked the head off a dead wasp and put in on a toothpick, which I stuck into the nest to serve as a warning to other wasps and yellow jackets.

I would load the doghouse into the truck and take it to the dump, but I’m afraid to go near it. I think there’s a snake living in there now.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


MIM NewsletterLike this blog? Don’t miss another one. Sign up for our E-Newsletter.  It provides you with a list of all the week’s stories/blogs and is delivered to your inbox every Tuesday morning.