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About A Week: Striped Invaders

The Hinchliffes go into battle against an army of wasps.

A squadron of striped invaders were buzzing outside the kitchen door.

A dozen small wasps then a dozen more.

"They weren't here yesterday," said my wife. "Just look where they're going." They were squeezing into and out of a tiny gap in a wood panel on the one-storey extension to our house.

"We're not taking in lodgers," said I. "Particularly when they might sting us every time they're in a bad mood. And the postman won't be too happy about dipping his head into a cloud of insects."

Does anyone like wasps? Do they have any friends?

I've been suspicious of them since boyhood when, uninvited, they tried to share my jam sandwiches.

Then there was an afternoon in a garden in Nairobi, Kenya, when a striped opportunist alighted on my arm and gave it a jab. The sting was like a sword thrust. In minutes veins turned a vivid purple, forming what looked like a sketch-map of Africa. The outcome was a trip to a hospital and another painful sting in a different, and usually concealed, part of the anatomy.

Wasps are definitely not welcome to share our abode.

Time to go to war. Joyce bought a can of deadly foam. At dusk the Hinchliffe militia went into action. Wearing hats, overcoats and rubber gloves we sprayed foam into the gap above the wooden panel. Wasps stumbled, staggered and fell. When no more insects were moving filler was stuffed into the gap. Then we went inside to enjoy supper, gladiators emerging victorious from the colosseum.

During the night the wasps called up their engineers. A tiny hole had been cut through the filler. Insects were triumphantly crawling through it.

More filler was applied, with a coat of paint on top of it. This thwarted the striped engineers. In the following days wasps paraded in a puzzled way on the wall beside the wooden panel. Then we found 'em buzzing around in our garage. Dozens of the blighters.

Forget the Geneva Convention. Intensive chemical warfare was now called for. We went into action with a new supply of spray cans.

The results were gratifying. Soon there was a pile of ginger-and-black infantry on the garage floor and not a buzz to be heard.

You think we were overly concerned about a few dozen wasps? Reflect then that around 40 people die in this country every year as the result of wasp stings. Some of these deaths result from being stung in the back of the throat after accidentally swallowing a wasp which was helping itself to food or drink.

Aargh!

Our son David was stung on the eyelid by a wasp.

Double aargh!

That was 25 years ago but he still winces when he remembers the pain.

Wasps demand to be taken seriously. Though a chap called Bob regards the killing of them as a sport. "During my surfing of the Net I have noticed the glaring lack of information on how to kill wasps in a fun way," he says. "To rectify this oversight I have set out to create the authoritative wasp-killing site. We prefer the satisfaction of hand-to-sting combat."

Bob recommends arming yourself for the fray. A pair of leather gloves, a bobble hat to protect the head, a folded-up newspaper ... "Once you've donned your protective equipment you are ready to start whacking."

There's a thought to trouble the serious local journalist. The Examiner as a weapon of war.

We'll stick to spray cans, thank you very much Bob. We derive no pleasure in killing the invaders. Then again, there's no remorse for going to war with them.

Any twinge of guilt is instantly quelled by recalling the horror of a stung eyelid, and a bare arm with a map etching itself menacingly upon it.

A nightmarish Stephen King concept comes bobbing to the surface.
What if that killing foam was not one 100% effective? What if lurking there behind the woodwork is a small clan of wasps who are absorbing the chemicals and using them to mutate into super stormtroopers?
Imagine them bursting forth next summer as big as cricket balls to chase us vengefully around the garden.

We are already stocking up on insect spray. Anyone know where we can buy a handy household-size flamethrower?

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