RICKTER SCALE: The only good one is a dead one

RICKTER SCALE: The only good one is a dead one

Rick Stiebel | Columnist

Although some of my best friends are white, Anglo-Saxon and former Protestants, I loathe wasps with a passion of Trumpian proportions.

At the risk of offending insect worshippers of all stripes or fervent proponents of PETA, wasps in my opinion have absolutely no redeeming value.

Unlike bees, which placidly go about their buzz in search of flowers to pollinate, wasps always appear to be looking for a fight, eager to inflict their venom on anyone who wanders into their erratic fight path.

It all goes back to when I worked installing gutters in the 1980s, appropriate prior employment considering the segment of Rickter readers who think that’s where my columns belong.

I was two storeys up on a ladder removing a piece of gutter from a gable that camouflaged a nest I had inadvertently exposed two feet from my face. I was stung at least seven times as I scrambled down and threw my crowbar and hammer away with no concern for my colleagues below.

I descended the last 15 feet in free fall without the use of a single aluminum rung.

Children who witnessed me dodging wasps at Willows beach while the bride calmly ate lunch at a picnic table nearby remain traumatized or amused by the spectacle.

The performance in the park on that fateful day can only be described as someone with Tourette syndrome suddenly struck by a seizure of epic epileptic proportions.

That smouldering hatred has been exacerbated the last five years by wasps that raid the hummingbird feeders hanging in the back and front of our home. We worship the winged wonders, despite being occasionally startled – in my case within an inch of a heart attack – when a hummer appears in a whir of impatience inches from my face. The rising cost of the sugar they blow through as our watering holes gain popularity with an increasingly thirsty population is worth the enjoyment we get watching the tiny critters feed.

In retaliation, the bride has hung a couple of honey-laced traps near the hummerbirds’ buffets in an effort to curtail the number of green and yellow-jacketed vermin that chase the tiny critters away.

Tallying up the body count has become a highlight of her day, which I find a little unsettling. She never ventures into our courtyard to tend to the garden or read without her trusty little electric tennis racket, and takes great pleasure in watching the wasps sizzle and spark when they stick to the webbing after she swats them.

She’s even offered to fabricate a designer bug suit with an easy-zip gob hole so we can enjoy one of her favourite summer activities, having a meal or beverage on a sun-splashed patio. It’s been many many years since that dark day at the beach in Oak Bay, and the pressure is mounting.


Rick Stiebel is a Sooke resident and semi-retired journalist.