The attorney was running screaming; cursing in the most incoherent and obscene way. What led up to this and what was to follow was almost unbelievable…
My morning went quickly, mostly consisting of routine calls; treating several homes for ants, one for spiders, another for flea’s… played with a dog or two; helped one student with a math problem; patiently listened to a mother’s story about a sick, and dying dear friend…just a routine day until…
My first service stop that afternoon was a wasp treatment. Because of recent advances in technology these types of problems were generally quite easily taken care of with little or no risk to myself or the homeowner unless…
Arriving at Bill’s home, he greeted me as he walked from his open garage. He made a point of letting me know right off that he was an attorney. I knew right then this was going to be a problem call. He forewarned me that the wasp activity was near the front door; they were going in and out through the screen of a foundation vent. I could see the problem area, not difficult to solve at all. However that’s not exactly how it turned out….it would prove to be a disaster in the making.
I returned to my truck, gathered the necessary tools and materials; put my bee-suit on and approached the entrance to the nest from the side at a right angle to avoid being in their direct flight path. They have a very distinct pattern entering and exiting the nest. Several would fly in; two second of hesitation and several would fly out, this they continually repeated. It was during these two seconds of hesitation that I took my bulb duster and gave the entrance to the nest two quick and firm blasts, then moved quickly at a right angle away from the area. The dust agitated them; of course, about 50 came out to investigate. By that time, I was out of their range of detection. Within a few minutes they settled down, however the sentries of the nest circled close providing protection from any intruder.
I observed them for about 30 seconds, wanted to be sure the ones coming out were covered in the white dust…they were well dusted. I pointed this out to Bill because he seemed overly concerned about the effectiveness of the treatment. I explained to him; as they returned into the nest they would contaminate the core, and in less than 24 hours the entire nest would be dead. Problem solved….well not exactly!
Bill said NO…so once again, I explained to him that the dusted wasps and the ones flying in would also become dusted as well. They would carry this material throughout the nest; by morning, the nest would be completely dead. I went on to add that the treatment was 100% effective 100% of the time. I absolutely guaranteed the treatment would work.
I should have anticipated what was to take place next….
Once again Bill forcibly said NO, you must go under the house and destroy the nest! To be sure it is done, I will go with you! I think I just entered the Twilight Zone because his request was irrational, irresponsible and very dangerous.
It was a bad idea, a very very bad idea. It was a warm summer afternoon. Bill was dressed in shorts and a T-Shirt, this was going to be very problematic, I had on a bee-suit (the wasps could not hurt me).
Now if the crawl space had been a standard size of about 24 to 36 inches high I would simply have walked away from the job….however his crawl space was over 60 inches; this made it relatively easy to walk, slightly bent over, to the targeted nest.
The house was about 5000 square feet with a beautiful entry. The crawl space was located inside the closet near the living room, about 15 feet from the front door…The nest itself was located over 120 feet from the crawl space entrance.
Because my only option at that point was to break open the nest, I took my five-foot extension pole which expanded to almost 10 feet. Breaking it open would expose the most vulnerable interior parts where the larva were developing making the chemical treatment highly effective…it would also give the attorney a running start before the wasp swarmed him.
My back was to Bill when I began to work. As expected, they came swarming out…their intent was to do some serious damage to anyone close by. With a vengeance they came full force, dozen and dozens of them. I stood my ground and remained still, held my breath, (carbon dioxide coming from heavy breathing draws and agitates them).
They are highly attracted to infrared body heat of warm-blooded mammals. Since I had a protective bee suit on, my body heat profile was almost non-existent compared to the attorney, his profile glowed like a red neon sign. Loudly declaring, “HERE I AM COME GET ME”. The angry wasps immediately focused most of their attention and anger on him. As they flew by me, the sound was horrifically frightening (both that of the wasps and the terrified attorney)…I turned at the sound of a rapid succession of rather loud distinct thump..thump..thumps…as he was making his hasty retreat swinging his arms as he cursed, his head was hitting the crawl space subflooring while he ran….that had to be painful!
About 20 of the stragglers tried to attack me but my bee suit provided 100% protection. I was safe; not so for the attorney! He moved faster than you can imagine, almost as if the Devil was after him…he was not far off!
After destroying the nest, I made my way back to the crawl space entrance. I took a path that was out of the flight pattern of the now furiously angry wasps. When I approached the entrance, I could hear screaming and more cursing…only this time it was Bill’s wife…she was cursing him as she was beating him mercilessly with a fly swatter trying to get the wasps off him…perhaps trying to beat some sense into him as well…
As I exited the crawl space, I still had some wasps trying to attack me. However, by the time I reached my truck they had flown away. Instinctively they flew back to where all the real action was taking place. They obviously were intent on returning to the open front door to join their sisters (all worker wasps are sterile females) in the attack on Bill, the now painfully humiliated attorney.
As I completed removing my bee-suit and finished putting my tools away, Bill the attorney approached me. He would not look me in the eyes; he handed me my check, turned around and silently walked away…his eyelids and lips were badly swollen (several times their normal size), in addition he had several large lumps on his forehead and cheeks, arms and legs. They were all a painfully looking rose color…I marveled that his wife did not call 911 for emergency help.
I actually felt bad for him…he just would not listen; maybe I should have been more emphatic and insisting that the treatment would absolutely work, I tried 3 times,…maybe I should have just walked away.
In the end his wasp problem was 100% solved…just perhaps he came away from the experience a little wiser… Just maybe he gained a greater respect for pest control technicians, their judgment and procedural skills. Had he listen, the problem would have been simply resolved; his decision was, unquestionably wrong. The result, he paid a horrifically painful price for his arrogance…the gavel hit the wooden base with a thunderous bang that echoed through the hall of time…case closed!