One of the unintended consequences of the home renovation this far has been an influx of unwanted bugs and critters on the inside of my home. These are creatures that I try my best to avoid in the great outdoors, so imagine my horror to find them in my kitchen and den on a regular basis. Now, before your skin gets the creepy crawlies, don’t be too alarmed. We suffer no roaches here and our ant condo association days are on hiatus for the time being. However, we’ve recently been host to a spate of hornets.
Many years ago, when we moved to Charlotte, there was a team by the name of the Hornets here and their mascot was the cutest thing! It had unreasonably large dark eyes and a sort of pointy-down bottom covered in furry black and yellow stripes. How quaint! Maybe not-so-much in real life. Besides, I never forgave them for the “bundling” incident when they tried to package funding for their (wholly unnecessary) new arena within the bond referendum for arts and science. After that, the city of Charlotte held the door open for them and invited them to be brats elsewhere, hoping the screen door did hit them where the Good Lord split them on their way out.
But I digress. Real, actual hornets have not so much invaded 714 Union, but they’ve been showing up like unwanted tourists in Washington DC during the spring bloom of the dogwoods. One day as my daughter stretched out on the floor to watch iCarly or Wizards of Waverly Place or some such drivel, one of the nasty creatures (the hornets, not iCarly) stung her bony little hand. How rude! And this morning, when I arrived in my kitchen and turned on the light to give my beloved spouse the gift of freshly brewed coffee, there lay one brazenly napping on the white tile behind the sink. It was so inert, I delighted myself to think it dead. Before reaching out to sweep it away, though, I decided I’d better be sure. “You alive, little sucker?” I cooed at it. The hornet played possum. I blew on it ever so gently then, held my breath and stepped back a bit and waited.
I woke it, apparently and it was not the least bit gracious about my intrusion. It began to flutter its translucent wings and try to rouse itself to no avail. Perhaps it had been drinking my vodka and was slow to move. Well, that thought was more than I cared to entertain, so I reached for…ant spray. Snap! It was all I had, so I made do. Blasting it with three long bursts, I declared, “DIE, you ugly thing – DIE!” To my surprise, it obliged, but in a most horrific way.
I don’t believe I’ve ever actually seen anything or anyone “curl up and die” but I’ll be darned if it didn’t do just that in slow and dramatic fashion. Its body curled into a tight C as its multitudinous flailing legs kicked in a furious attempt to fight it. It’s wings moved so fast as to appear to be in a strobe light with vague flashes reflecting off them. And as the fight to remain alive and most likely rise up and put a welt on my nose continued, the stench of the spray attacked my eyes with such ferocity that I almost regarded the insect with pity. “Man that’s gotta burn!” I thought as I watched its final spasms.
I reached for a napkin and swiped the corpse from the counter top. “You’ll hurt no one in my family today, sir,” I chided and tossed the lifeless form into the trash.