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As mad as a hornet’s nest

One warm, sunny day last fall, my brother-in-law pointed out a gigantic hornet’s nest hanging from the eaves of my house. Although the nest was bigger than my head, I had somehow failed to notice its existence.

The magnitude of the nest bothered me, but we were still enjoying nice weather, so my advisors and I decided to allow the hornets to continue trespassing until the temperature dropped a few dozen degrees.

Well, you know how it is. Even though I had written “hornet’s nest” on my personal whiteboard, it seemed as if I gave the nest serious consideration only during snow storms or on our most frigid days. I’d say to myself, “Self, I need to get rid of that nest before the hornets return from their winter vacation.” Then, I’d shiver, make a cup of hot chocolate and forget about it.

Once winter morphed into spring, however, the nest began to dominate my thoughts. But since the nest occupied the highest point of my house, it presented a logistical problem. I couldn’t sweep it away with a broom, and the rocks I threw in its direction didn’t exactly hit the mark. What’s more, although I wished for it fervently, Legolas didn’t ride up and shoot the nest with an arrow.

With nowhere else to go, I expressed my despair to my family. And that’s when my sister suggested I spray the nest with hornet killer. I have to admit, she had me at spray. In fact, I never pass up an opportunity to use bug spray. Last summer, I actually uttered the sentence, “Keep them alive until I get the Raid.”

Nevertheless, I wasn’t sure about this so-called hornet killer. But, I’ll be darned. Lowe’s carries several brands of hornet and wasp(er) killer. I made my selection, and the spray remained in the bag for a couple weeks. Why wasn’t I itching to point the hornet and wasp(er) killer at a nest filled with stinging insects who are so angry they inspired the phrase “as mad as a hornet?” Oh, I don’t know.

As fate would have it, when I pulled into my driveway one evening last week, I spotted a much smaller hornet’s nest materializing above my garage. My instincts kicked in and after parking the car – and before I could change from my professional wardrobe and into my lounging attire – I grabbed the hornet and wasp(er) killer and headed outside.

Although a hornet fluttered around the nest, I aimed the bottle and sprayed until the hornet lay lifeless in my driveway. Then, I knocked down the nest and squashed it with my foot. Without thinking of the repercussions, I walked across the lawn and directed the can at my old nemesis – the massive nest at the apex of my house.

I can only describe the event as anti-climatic. Not even one enraged hornet emerged from the nest. Indeed, the wind created my only problem. But once I figured out which way the wind was blowing, the spray soared into the stratosphere and surrounded the nest.

Unfortunately, this story is not over. I climbed my step-ladder and held a broom aloft, but it didn’t come close to touching what remains of the nest. Part of it continues to hang from the eaves of my house, mocking me.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

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