When you’ve got a problem – take the bull by the horns, or in this case, the wasp by its stinger … there’s nothing to be gained by fannying about. I know this – I just managed to put the concept on the back-burner.
We were driving north through France. We’d left the car parked up for 8 weeks at our permanent moorings at Pont de Vaux, whilst we cruised the waterways on our barge, and during this period someone, or rather something had moved in.
About an hour into our journey my husband pointed out a wasp clinging desperately to our wing mirror as we hurtled up the autoroute at close on 130 kph. When we slowed for traffic, our stowaway managed to get a leg up and we watched it disappear into the gap behind the mirror face. Hmmm… interesting.
On arrival home, further investigation revealed a papery honeycomb affair, not much bigger than a bird’s egg, lodged in the gap behind the glass of the wing mirror and the housing within which it rotates.
So far as we could tell, there was only one squatter in there, and it appeared relatively unfazed by the 1000 kilometre journey north through France, a moderately rough ferry crossing and a further two hour journey up the motorway to our home in Cambridgeshire.
I knew I should do something, but as I procrastinated, I kept getting this niggling sense that the creature had been through so much, shown such resilience, that maybe it deserved to survive.
Or to expire naturally from the rigours of its journey.
Or to find a more comfortable residence.
But not to multiply…
Over the next few days one became two, then three and four and now I don’t know how many there are in there. As the problem grew, I contemplated spraying a jet of wasp killer into the gap and then doing a runner for the house, but I worried that the angry occupants might catch up with me before I reached the front door. On the rare occasions that I’ve steeled myself to spray a wasp in the house, they’ve always demonstrated an unerring ability to detect and home in on the weapons-deployer. Wuss? Moi?
I decided, (well it wasn’t so much a decision as simply a lack of will to take any conclusive action) to let nature take its course. When a giant spider decided to spin a web between the car window and the wing mirror, my spirits lifted, and I left it in place, edging my way carefully into the car. I looked on it as nature’s equivalent of boarding up the windows. Any wasps exiting the nest would get caught in it, pretty much as might happen anywhere. I would not be culpable in such an eventuality. My conscience would be clear.
But after a week the web disappeared, either by high winds or, more likely, battered down by my unwelcome and persistent lodgers. No spider has come forward to repeat the procedure since then.
I thought that the constant slamming of the car door might persuade them to move on, (and must admit I’ve got into the habit of slamming the door twice every time I enter and exit the car). But they’re either a community of head-bangers or they like a challenge – they’re not going. They don’t even seem miffed about it.
I’ve managed to lose a few, as I’ve gone about my daily business. The nest has been transported to the dentist, the supermarket, the city centre and the gym on a regular basis. Some of them have ventured out, for nourishment I suppose, at these locations and then returned too late to get back into their mobile home before it moved on. There’s a vague sense of satisfaction arriving home with a couple less squatters than before, though a lingering query in my mind as to how efficient their homing systems are.
But their number doesn’t remain depleted for long and this process of attrition is very slow.
Every few days I angle up the mirror to provide the best view and shine a torch in there to check on the situation. They don’t seem to mind, in fact I suspect they’re now rehearsing a tap-dancing routine to entertain me. There’s even one who twists its head obligingly towards me … ready for my close up, Mr DeMille.
In a few weeks we will be returning to France. Maybe forcible repatriation will succeed where all other peaceful methods have failed. Perhaps the unmistakable odour of fresh garlic, and the strains of La Marseillaise will entice them from their hitherto des-res and back to their native habitats. We hope so. When we park up the car this time, and set off on our next cruise, we’ll turn the wing mirrors inward to lie flush with the bodywork of the car so that it presents a less obvious … er… residential opportunity. We’ll leave the mirror adjusted though, so that there’s a small gap that our visitors can leave through. Fair’s fair, entente cordiale and all that.
But if they’re still there when we return from the waterways … it’s war!
At least I think so.