A sting in the tail from the Waspinator



“No chemicals, no maintenance, no mess, no dead wasps” … and no use

There are traces still of the bees’ nest above the door of my study. Bees are a protected species, and mine were moved by the local council to a place of safety – there is probably a processing centre for refugee bees somewhere in Stirlingshire.

This year wasps have taken up residence in a gap in the wall of my stone-built study at the bottom of the garden.

I’ve never met anyone who liked wasps. I have a friend who insists I am a contrarian, but I am with the mass of humanity as far as wasps are concerned.

Perhaps it goes back to when I was a teenager. In the grounds of our Catholic school there was a grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. It came complete with a statue of the Virgin Mother of God, and a supplicant Saint Bernadette.

We used to hang out there, not for our religious fervour but because it provided some shelter from the inclement Irish weather, and a degree of privacy from prying eyes. Teenagers like their privacy.

One autumn I had the misfortune to be stung by a wasp that had flown up my bell-bottomed trousers (that dates me). Finding its progress impeded further up my leg, it stung me on the inner thigh. Ouch, I can still feel the pain.

Without any deference to the Blessed Virgin, or little Miss Soubirous, and caring not about any embarrassment, I had to pull down my trousers to get rid of the little blighter in case he did any further damage. Too much information, I know.

A dying bumble bee did something similar last year, but it decided to teach me a lesson just a couple of inches north of my ankle – much to the amusement of my children who delight in seeing their dad discomforted. Sympathy is not something that seems to run in the family DNA.

Anyway, back to my wasps. Before heading off on holiday, I noticed a procession of wasps heading in and out of the spot vacated by my bees, and I headed to B&Q for something to destroy the nest.

From what I understand wasps do make some sort of positive contribution to the world we share. I also accept that during my lifetime I have probably done more harm to the natural environment than any vespula vulgaris (to give the common wasp its fancy Latin name). But…

Unprotected by the law, unlike the bees, it’s always open season on wasps. There must have been a run on the nest destoyer, for B&Q was out of it. Homebase too was bereft of the stuff.

I had read that wasps avoid nesting where there is already a colony, and one way of deterring them is to stick up a fake one. Apparently a brown paper bag can do the trick.

As you know too well, in today’s consumer-orientated world, there’s always someone on hand to meet a need. Beside the space where the wasp nest foam should have been was a little green box.

“No More Wasps” it proclaimed in bold sans serif type above a cartoon of a worried looking vespula vulgaris. “The original waspinator” is designed to look like the hive of a deadly gang of killer wasps, and the blurb promises that within 15 minutes the area will be clear of their common cousins.

I meant business so I bought two, and hung them on either side of my shed expecting the wasps to move on while I was away.

One would think I’m old enough not to be suckered. I also teach students about advertising, marketing and branding so I should know better. But I always believe a promise delivered with conviction.

When I got back home the wasps had moved all right… about three foot, and to within six inches of one of the fake killer wasp nests.

I can only assume they think my £4.99 Homebase hanging penthouse for a killer swarm affords them some degree of protection – a bit like the Mafia providing ‘security’ for your pad in Sicily.

So it’s back to the drawing board, and the wasp nest destroyer spray is back in stock. But can you believe what it says on the tin? Or is it just another sting?