On The Hot Seat

I’ve done some adventurous things in my life, but as a general rule I play it safe(ish.)  So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that I’ve been dicing with death (or at least a painful personal injury) for the past week.

The malevolent heat bubble that pushed our temperatures up to 42C/107F has finally moved on and the weather has been lovely since; so in the evenings I’ve been sitting outside.  Our deck chairs are cheap and light, and we leave them hooked over the edge of the deck to prevent them from playing Smash-Up Derby whenever the wind picks up.  So every evening I’ve been unhooking a chair, dragging it over to my favourite spot, and enjoying a few peaceful minutes.

No danger in that, right?

Riiiight.

While I’ve been sitting there, I’ve noticed some paper wasps buzzing around the other chair.  “Hmmm,” I’ve thought each time.  “They must be starting a nest under that other chair.  Lucky I grabbed this one.  I should probably do something about that nest…”  Then I finish my drink and go inside and forget the whole thing until next time.

So yesterday I finally decided to check and see if I needed to deal with a nest.  Paper wasps are relatively docile, but they’re still wasps; so I used appropriate caution.  I got up from my chair, crept over to the other chair where they were hovering, and gingerly eased it over to look beneath.

No nest.

Whew, that was a relief.

I went back and sat down.  But the wasps kept hanging around.  Flying under that other chair and circling.  And at last realization dawned:  The chairs normally sit side by side.  They were looking for their nest.  It wasn’t under the other chair.  Ergo…

Slowly and with dread, I got up again and carefully tipped my chair over.

Yep, there was a wasp nest right under the seat, inches away from where my leg (and some other important parts of my anatomy) had been.  And all week I’d been dragging that chair around, sitting down, shifting, getting up and strolling around; all but waving my arms and yelling, “I’m a threat, sting me!”  I can still hardly believe they didn’t.

So now I’m torn.  After they tolerated my obnoxious presence in peace for a week, it seems rude and ungrateful to smash their home and slaughter them all.  But (in a stellar example of applying safety measures after the danger is past) I don’t want to spend another second on, or even near, the hot seat.

I can’t quite bring myself to wipe them out, though. So I guess I’ll be uneasily sharing the deck with them for the rest of the summer. At least I know they’re docile.

Right…?

40 thoughts on “On The Hot Seat

  1. I’d suggest you buy a lottery ticket with that kind of luck. I think it is amazing they didn’t sting you. Perhaps they were so confused by their nest being dragged too and from they lost all sense of reason. Perhaps the nest and its attached chair could find a new location if you can’t bring yourself to get rid of the wasps?

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    • Yes, I’ve solved the problem by leaving the two chairs in question sitting untouched side by side; and I store a folding chair just inside the door and take it outside when I want to sit. I haven’t seen the wasps since, and my folding chair is very comfy. And safe. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Unbelievable… you are so lucky. I still can’t believe you didn’t get multiple stings. I’m kind of with you about leaving the nest alone. I think they play an important part in nature and error on leaving them alone (unless like you they start stinging). Sorry I’m a little late to this party…we had an unexpected trip back up to Seattle. All’s well, but I am behind on reading blog posts!! Have a great weekend!!

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  3. If they leave you alone, yes, get another chair if you need two chairs. We have Yellow Jackets but not paper wasps (or hornets that I know of).
    My second cousin lived two miles down the road from us. My cousin and I were over visiting him. Amazing how three brainless boys in very early teens can think of dumb stuff to do. We found a huge wasps nest in an old wooden granary in the yard. Decided to get rid of it. Sprayed gasoline on it and threw a match. It did get rid of the nest but it may have been slight overkill as it took the granary with it.

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    • Hahahaha!!! I’m laughing now, but I bet it was no laughing matter at the time. I shudder to think about how much trouble I would have been in if I’d burned down one of the old wooden granaries on our old farm. I imagine the consequences were severe for the three of you.

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  4. I had to look up “paper wasps” because I’d never heard that term before. When I saw the picture it looked like a “yellow jacket” so I had to look up the differences between the two, and there were many differences. I now know more about wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, and mud dauber’s than I ever wanted to know. Did I mention I am terrified of wasps? We once attended a large group picnic at a park overrun with yellow jackets and great black wasps. As soon as we brought out the food they were everywhere! It was a horror movie. To this day my knee jerk reaction is complete annihilation. So while I applaud you on your choice of harmonious living. I myself am feeling a little twitchy and scouting my yard for the buggers. Why did I move to the mid-west again?
    Bee safe!! 😂 I know I know. Couldn’t help it.

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    • Bahahaha!!! Yep, it had to be done.

      I would have been right there beside you for the total annihilation at the park. As a general rule I hate and fear wasps and hornets. I tolerate paper wasps, but they’re the only ones. All the rest get instant bug-zapper treatment. I love those electrified ‘tennis-racket’ bug zappers! They’re not a strong enough charge to actually kill a wasp on contact, but it gives them enough of a zap to make them fall to the ground where I can step on them. Quickly. Very quickly. And/or run away.

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  5. Nope. Stinging critters gotta go. As in completely. No? Then just ask yourself exactly how many lives you have left.

    The wife and I are both down one apiece. Last week a kid pulled out in front of us. Rolled a stop sign. We were on a 4-lane highway. Yep. Ugly. Totaled both vehicles.

    Get rid of the wasps. 👍👍

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  6. At least they didn’t come over to you, Diane, whilst you were sitting above their nest, so it appears they’re happy to share… they’d probably have let you know in a ‘different way’ if they weren’t happy. They were also probably happy that you returned their home after you’d finished using it. All good! 🙂
    Enjoy your nicer weather, Diane!

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    • Thanks, Tom, I certainly am enjoying the more moderate weather. It’s still unseasonably warm, but not deadly anymore. And yes, I’m sure the wasps would have acted out their displeasure if I’d pushed them too far. Thank goodness I didn’t!

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  7. The last time I had a yellow hornets nest on my patio I found an interesting man online who collected them for labs that extract their venom for use in allergy immunotherapy. He came out and looked at my nest and said he’d prefer to let it get bigger before he collected it. I agreed, but before he came back I found bits of the paper comb on the ground and the hornets were gone. He said raccoons consider the nests delectable and seem to enjoy the piquancy of the stingers.

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    • “The piquancy of the stingers” – ha! Just goes to show, there’s someone (or some raccoon) for everyone. It’s fascinating about the venom collection, though — I never would have thought of that. I’ll have to look online and see if there’s anything like that in our area.

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  8. I am a wimp. I would swap chairs. Once (while swimming) I was stung in the underarm by a wasp (who obviously thought nothing of my style). I would not like a sting in any part of my fundament.
    In one of our homes a red-bellied black snake (moderately venomous) lived under the front steps (and often sunned on them). For at least nine months of the year I only used the back door.

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    • Venomous snake? Yep, I’d be using the back door, at least until I figured out how to permanently evict the snake. And a sting in the underarm?!? Ooooh, ow, ow, ow! I’m cringing just thinking about how incredibly painful that must have been. And wasp stings last and last. Ouch. *shudders*

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  9. I had a wood deck at my house across town, where the railings were capped with the bottom open. I remember walking into the house one evening, standing in the kitchen, then feeling a sharp pain in my back. Then, two more within seconds. Turns out a wasp had gotten up inside my shirt–I was leaning against the railing of the deck, with the bottom of the shirt hanging open, and a wasp conveniently found its way inside my shirt for whatever reason.

    I also got stung by our pool–an electrical box had one of the knockouts missing from the bottom, and I’d rested my hand on the post beneath the box. I got stung before I realized there was a wasp trying to get into the box, and I was just an inch or two too close to the opening. I had a “Mickey Mouse” hand for a couple of days after that. I got stung a couple of other times that I can’t recall the details of. My youngest got stung by a wasp that was hovering around one of her toys (unknown to her) when she was young–it got her on the side of her hand and to this day, over 15 years later, she still can’t completely close the gap between her pinky and ring fingers. (it’s like her pinky is still swollen slightly from it).

    So to this day, while I hate to displace insects, wasp nests are the one thing that has to go if they are located in unsafe places. I found one had started building a nest of mud on the rear suspension of my car, right where I was working on the brake lines and rotors. Got rid of it when the wasp flew away. There’s another one living under the cowl somewhere–all I’d need to do is lean against the windshield pillar and I’d probably get stung. Don’t know how I’ll get rid of that one. These are far from docile too, so I always weigh the decision to leave them alone (our garage has a few wasp nests inside) or get them out of the way. I don’t necessarily have to eliminate the wasps themselves, but knocking down the nest and somehow relocating it (or scooting it out of the way) when no wasps are present seems to be about the safest way to do it. Then, I regularly check the original location daily to make certain they are not starting another nest.

    My only worry is that if you happen to try sitting in the chair while one of them is inbound or outbound and collides with your leg, or finally sees a nearby limb as a threat, it may give you a good poke. That and if you don’t know if you’re allergic to them or not, it could be flirting with danger. With the aggressive wasp species I have here, just having bare skin in close proximity to them is enough to get them to sting.

    We seem to have three types here–the yellow jacket (known to be aggressive), larger dark brown wasps (which are the ones that have stung me the most), and some wasps that are narrower and black with a bluish tint. Not sure which of them are building the mud nests vs. the “honeycomb” type of nests, and not really inclined to follow any of them to find out. 😁

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    • Your sting stories make the hair stand up on the back of my neck with imagined pain. Ow, ow, OW! I’ve been stung (accidentally, I’m sure) by a bee occasionally, but never a wasp; and that’s how I’d like to keep it.

      I actually fear and loathe wasps, and especially hornets. As far as I’m concerned, they’re vicious bullies that will sting for no reason other than ‘just because they can’. Any time I find a nest, I destroy it; and many wasps have fallen to my electrified bug-zapper-racket. But paper wasps are different, and so far I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt without repercussions. I’m not allergic to bee stings, so I’m hoping the consequences of a wasp sting would be painful but not life-threatening. And we haven’t had many wasps around since the Violet-Green Swallows moved in under our deck. So far, so good… but I’m still not going to sit in that chair again until next year. 😉

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      • Maybe you can inch that chair further and further away from your main activity area each day, until it’s out of swatting range.

        I’ve noticed that bees pretty much leave us alone, and given their endangered status, I leave them alone as well. But our nemesis here in the Great Lakes area? Fishflies. (Also called mayflies elsewhere in the US.) They start up about mid June, peak around the beginning of July, and continue for a few weeks afterwards. We’re about a mile from the lake and haven’t gotten many, but there are areas along the main road by the lake (Jefferson Ave.) where they will cover the sides of buildings. They only live for at most 48 hours out of the water. They don’t bite. They just smell and make a mess. Usually the leaf blower or power washer will blast them all away, sending their swarm to someone else’s house. At night, beneath the streetlights, it sounds like someone playing with bubble wrap each time a car drives by.

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        • Ew, fishflies! I remember swarms of them from when I used to visit my aunt and uncle’s cabin out east. They’re disgusting! Harmless, as you say, but disgusting. Thank goodness they don’t bite or sting. 🙂

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  10. How about: you take your chair, the one with the potentially hostile tail bangers nest, and move it gently (verrrry gently) off the porch and across the yard out of harms way(your harm). Then you sit in the one that is uninhabited ’till their season ends. When they (the vandal gang) leave for warmer climes you go retrieve your chair and keep on, keepin’ on.
    Of course I’m sure there are two chairs, as now positioned, for a reason, So there may be some meetings held and negotiations required. But hey, bees bite.
    Just a thought.

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    • Very true. I’m definitely going to give them as wide a berth as possible, but it’s a second-floor deck so my options are limited. I guess I could tie a rope on ‘their’ chair and lower it carefully over the edge and down to the ground. What could possibly go wrong…? 😉

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  11. I am generally hesitant to kill anything without good reason and if you can coexist for the rest of the season then I would say you probably should. Who knows, maybe they will repel some garden predator to express their gratitude for your hospitality. Or not.

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    • I’ve heard they’re beneficial garden predators, so that’s another reason I’m reluctant to hurt them. I hope they feel the same way about me, because I’m just going to live and let live. Unless one of them stings me. Then it’s war.

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