Saturday, October 29, 2005

You are never gonna believe this. Really. Trust me.

Okay, so the last time I posted I was tired and mad and just generally in a funk. But now the carnival is over and at least that is behind us.

But now we, the Divas, are on to bigger, better and more stressfully weird things. As I said in the title, you really aren't going to believe this.

Okay, so we live in the country and we get mice in the house. It's one of those facts of life things. Well, last week sometime we started noticing a smell in our house. Last year we got the dead mouse smell really bad in our house when we killed a momma mouse and her little orphaned babies started rotting. Gross, yes. Was I sorry? Nah, not really. I mean, dead mouse smell is not pleasant, but in my mind it at least means that there is one less mouse on the planet and thus, in my house. But dead mouse only smells bad about 2 or 3 days. After 3 days the smell didn't dissipate, it got worse. Much worse. So bad that I was spraying Neutra Air about every 30 minutes in an attempt to eliminate the odor. I am having people over to my house tonight and I was considering cancelling because of the smell. It was that bad.

We took out all the trashes and bleached the cans. That didn't help and I was getting desperate. The smell was much worse out here in my office so we started assuming that the dead critter was behind my computer desk or in the wall or a closet. TaterSis gagged when she walked into my office the other day. Yeah. I was mortified and more than disgusted.

So Thursday night, Paul brought the kids home from the carnival while I stayed to sling the remaining nacho cheese and then clean it all up. He bathed the kids and put them to bed and then decided that he was going to find that smell, by golly. He checked all of the kitchen cabinets first because that is where they usually die - the multiple traps may have something to do with that. He then checked behind the washer and dryer because the smell was getting pretty bad in there. He found nothing in there. The utility room and my office share a wall, so he continued on toward the ever-growing smell. He opened the small closet out here and gagged when the smell hit him. Bingo.

That closet houses our hot water heater, a rubbermaid box of my old dolls, the fold-up lawnchairs, a bb gun and Paul's work uniforms. He emptied that closet entirely. Then grabbed the spotlight and went to work.

Here's what he found:

Those, my friends, are yellow jackets. A whole HIVE of yellow jackets.




Remember the post about killing the little stingers all over my house? Yeah, turns out we shouldn't have been worried so much about them entering the house because they were already in here!

Paul used a whole can of Raid wasp spray on the paper hive and after the frantic, angry, dying buzzing stopped, he started knocking away the paper nest. We kind of figured, okay, you knock down the paper nest and voila the bees are gone. Uhhhh, no . . . that would be entirely too easy for a Diva adventure. There was a space of a few inches where the concrete and sheetrock don't mesh and the paper nest on the outside was only to protect the massive combs up inside the wall. The outside paper hive was as big as Sam's head and the combs that were up inside the wall were pretty extensive. We honestly have no idea how many or how big they were/are.

He hooked a wire coat hanger and dug up in the wall until he pulled out a monstrous piece of comb with the queen on it. Now, we are not professional bug killers. Heck, neither of us are even college-educated. In our minds, you take away the queen and the bugs go away. We are just so silly sometimes.

I jumped on the computer while he was performing his coat hanger operation and looked up yellow jackets, bees, wasps, hornets, lions and tigers and bears, oh my! From what I found, yes, they were yellow jackets and while not normal, it's not uncommon that they would nest inside the walls of a house. It told us to call an exterminator. Hmmm . . . Christmas presents for the kids or professional extermination of nasty horde of stinging insects? We'll take what's behind door #1, Bob. So after he disposed of the queen, he sprayed more of the residual poison up in the wall and called it good. Like I said, calling an exterminator just wasn't an option.

Yesterday morning Paul got up and filled the space with dirt and gravel and was going to pick up some expanding foam stuff at work to seal in the space in the closet and the space under the siding where they were entering. (Yeah, it's rather unnerving to stand in your backyard and watch yellowjacket after yellowjacket fly up under the siding of your house.) That done, he left for work and the kids and I stayed here to play and slobber and wipe snot and stuff. (Just to clarify, I never slobbered.)

About 9:30 I walked into my utility room and heard buzzing. Angry, loud buzzing. I ran out here to the closet and slammed the door shut, hoping to darken the closet and not give any option of going toward the light. The problem with my theory and subsequent plan of action was that the door to that closet is a vented door. Slats from top to bottom. Duh. I told you I played on too many chat piles as a kid. Then I shut the door from the living room to the playroom. Again, a vented door. It just gets better, doesn't it? But in my mind, we were safe. I was so, so wrong.

Cute Little Baby has dreams of being an Olympic Speed Crawler and shot off like a rocket toward the toyroom. I saw him working up speed and headed after him. Then I heard the screaming. Ohhhhhh the screaming!! I knew it before I ever saw a bug or a stinger or even him. He was holding his little hand in the air and just bellering. I tried to grab his hand but he would have none of that so I just scooped him up because the yellowjackets were starting to swarm around my head. I slammed the door shut, screaming baby in my arms and ran to the dining room. I held the baby down with my leg because he was so uncontrollable, bless his heart. After I scraped the stinger out of his finger I hollered to Kady, "GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!" put the little baby in the carseat, grabbed the big baby by the hand and we ran. Then I realized I was in my nightgown still.

So I put the kids in the van and ran back in the house to throw on some sweats then jumped in the van and sped off down the driveway. I called CLB's mom to tell her he got stung because she, herself, is allergic to stings. So not cool. She said she'd call the doctor and call me back. I drove towards the school because Paul had gone to pick up some carnival stuff and I was hoping to catch him on the road somewhere and bring him back home to save us from peril. He had already left the school. Dang! I have one freaked out nearly 4 year old in the back of my van (in her pajamas), one screaming baby and another baby who was so stunned at what was taking place that he just sat there slack-jawed and drooling. So I called Wal*Mart and told them to have him call me immediately when he got there. CLB's mom called back and told me what the doctor said, all was well, sting sensitivity isn't usually hereditary, give him Benadryl, etc etc. I pulled back into my driveway to wait for Paul's call and realized I was still in my bunny slippers.

So I made CLB a bottle, let Kady out to play in the driveway, gave CBB some Cheerios (Thank God I'd left the diaper bag in the van overnight.) and then braved my house to get the Motrin and Benadryl. The noise was so creepy! All that buzzing was totally out of a horror movie. Or at least a documentary on Discovery.

Paul came home to fight off the bugs. By that time there were hundreds more dead in the closet. At least the poison was working. Evidently the one that stung the baby was dying as well because we found a bunch in the floor later. The kids and I stayed outside - thank God it was a warm day. I called the college and asked if I could speak to the entymology guy and he asked for samples of the combs, nest and some of the bugs.

Here's what I learned:
This particular species of yellow jacket is closely related to the bald-faced hornet. Very aggressive, very mean. They have the most toxic venom of all stinging critters, but the fact that they are so small keeps them from being as deadly as a hornet. He opened the eggs that were in the combs and they were ready to hatch. He said that the cool weather was what kept us from being really badly hurt by them swarming, but he said it's a good thing we found them before we got the fireplace going because once the house warmed up they would've swarmed to the point we would've been stepping on them, sleeping with them, eating them and sitting on them. We would've had to have left our house. He said that the reason they had been out so bad in the house is because a new batch had evidently just hatched and there were many more to come. He was confuzzled by the fact that both times we had a sting, the stinger was left in because yellow jackets are multiple stingers usually. They are ground-dwellers but because the siding lip was so low to the ground they probably thought they were going underground.

Oh. And the smell? Well, he said they could've very well stung a mouse to death and that's what we're smelling, but he said more than likely it was just the nest. I think Paul would have to agree. While he was pulling the nest out, he ended up vomiting the smell was so bad. The bug dude said they sting other insects and bring them back to the nest, chew them up, regurgitate them and stuff the barf into the comb, lay an egg and seal it up. Then the babies eat it, poop it and what you smell is rotting bug and stinky rotting bug poo.

We have now sealed off the closet with plexiglass and masking tape and, per his instructions, we will be setting off a bomb a day for six days to eliminate any in the walls. Hopefully.

I just want this week to be over.


Hillbilly Mom said...

Oh, the HORROR!!! I am still drooling from the shock. My Hillbilly Mama got stung while mowing her yard this year. It has never happened before. Maybe it's the year of the yellow-jacket, like the ladybugs one year, and the 15-year cicadas, or whatever they were. I hope you get rid of them soon. Glad to know that the allergy thing is not hereditary. My dad had to carry a kit with epinephrine or some such thing because he was so allergic. He was a lineman for Southwestern Bell. Not such a good job for the sting-allergic.

Kim said...

And I freaked out when I had a nest in a silk topiary on the porch. Damn!

I'd have nightmares for DAAAYS. I am a complete wuss when it comes to any kind of bug.

Y'all stay safe killing the rest of them.

D said...

Oh my gosh! I would have been flipping out! So glad you guys made it out alive! Mr. Diva was so brave!!!! *L*

jules said...

Oh you poor baby (and your poor babies!) I guess I won't be TOO upset if you don't blog for a few days. I don't think I'd ever go near my office again if that had happened to me! Who do you want to play YOU in the Hollywood film version????

Shannon akaMonty said...

Oh. My. Damn.

I got the shakin' heebie jeebies just READING about it.

Full snaps to you and mr. diva for being so brave~I have such a severe bug-o-phobia that it is doubtful that I would have returned to my house until I delegated someone else to thoroughly examine every corner looking for the stupid things. *shudder*

Redneck Diva said...

MamaK-We both were so flabbergasted when we found them that we both just kind of stood there looking at each other like, "So what are you gonna do about this?" It's not something you ever imagine you'll find in your house!

HillbillyMom-We had a swarm of ladybugs last year and it was SO much better!!

I think if I were allergic to stings I'd find me a nice desk job somewhere.

Lessa-I told Mr. Diva that after finding a snake in the window this summer and now a huge nest of yellowjackets that we might want to consider moving to the city. He said he'd rather fight stinging insects any day. He's as phobic of town living as I am of being stung!

Dave-Dude, I think that you and the wife having stones and things in your bodies and both of you having to have surgery definitely beats my measly nest of yellowjackets!!

Kim-When we bought this house there were shrubs all around the front door that attracted wasps and I made Mr. Diva pull them up within a few weeks of moving in! I HATE stinging bugs!! It was so horrific to then find hundreds of them in my house!

Scrapper-Yes, my big brave Mr. Diva was brave! I have to give him major credit for being my hero and making our house safe once more.

Jules-Ya know, if I had to pick who was going to play me in a Hollywood movie I'd love to say that Kelly Preston would be a good pick, but I'm sure they'd end up casting Roseanne Barr. :-)

Monty-I get the heebie jeebies re-reading it, too! I was so ready to go rent a motel room on the spot, but Mr. Diva wouldn't hear of it. Said something about making a point and staking our claim, but ya know, a part of me thinks that maybe those yellow jackets could care less if we staked a claim on anything. I'm just glad they're gone now. I hope they're gone, anyway.

Queen Of Cheese said...

Yeesh! I think I'd spend a tiny bit of your casino haul and hire an exterminator just in case! One last blast from industrial strength poison would make me sleep better at night if I lived there. One way to look at it is if they eat bugs, maybe you had termites and they were ridding your house of them FOR you!!!!???? GAWD, I've eaten TOO much candy already!

Derek Knight said...



Anne said...

I know I'm a decade late here. I have yellow jackets in my walls and have also suspected a termite problem. Omg. I have never had a bee inside. They come in from outside thru a crack in my tiny front balcony wall. They've been coming and going for years and I just don't use my balcony. But for many complicated reasons - I've been sleeping on the couch in the living room which is close to the outside wall. I think the bees are also inside my interior walls because I hear buzzing. I thought maybe it was an appliance. Old crappy fridge from kitchen or loud dehumidifier or central air which needs a tuneup so I wouldn't have to use dehudifier. And rotating fan. But the buzzing noise bits constant throughout the night. Same pitch almost. It's a thick wall I think. I turned off all appliances and still heard it. Today I turned all appliances off again and pressed my ear hard against interior wall near outside bee hive hidden inside exterior wall. I hear activity. There's more. I went up to the master bedroom and looked up at gutter near roof. I see a HUGE wing hanging off gutter. Queen bee? Do they just lay dormant? I saw more bees around them. Unless they were termites. Are there queen termites and do the hang near gutters? I glued my ear near THAT interior wall and heard the sounds of termites I think. I looked up on the web what to listen for.

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Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...