I live with my parents in a trailer park built on top of a swamp. That’s about as classy as it sounds. Anyway, when the industrious developers decided to build here, they only filled in and built on half the swamp, leaving the other half more or less as they found it.
This means I live in a weird urban/wilderness hybrid environment. We have all the typical city critters like rats, cats, and dogs, but we also have primeval forest dwellers like fox, deer, and bears. It’s a neighborhood where you’re just as likely to hear an owl at night as you are to hear a car alarm and I’m usually okay with that.
Recently, though, this proximity to nature has begun to worry me.
First there were the yellow jackets. I was pacing around outside last week–as is my habit when I’m on the phone–when I noticed several yellow jackets flying into and out of a seam up near the roof of the tin box I call home. I stood a reasonably-safe distance away and watched their activities with growing horror.
Now let me make something clear: in general, nature doesn’t scare me.
Well, unless it sneaks up on me. If I pick up a piece of paper and get startled by a bug hiding underneath it, that fucker is getting flattened and I don’t care if his name was Jimminy Cricket.
Same goes for any creature I discover on me. I’ll happily pick up almost any creepy crawly and have a nice chat, but if a critter skips the small talk and goes straight to the jumping on my person, the last thing it will see is a 35-year-old fat guy screaming like a little girl while clobbering it with the nearest small appliance.
Bees are a different story. I have a healthy respect for most bees. And by “healthy respect” I mean “irrational fear.” I don’t care if a yellow jacket sends me a certified letter a week before showing up at my doorstep, my first and last instinct is one of merciless destruction. The same goes for wasps and hornets. Really, I just hate bees in general.
Except bumble bees. I love bumble bees and have even been known to pet them from time to time, but that’s another story.
I told my folks about the yellow jackets and my father promptly climbed up on a ladder and blasted them with some kind of lethal toxin.
And by “lethal” I mean “totally harmless to bees.”
If anything the poison just pissed them off. And possibly gave them super strength, so now we have angry mutant bees living in our walls.
Every day or so my father mentions going and getting some other sort of kill juice, but he hasn’t so far. I think he might be afraid that whatever he gets next won’t work either and will just give the bees more super powers.
“Live and let mutate” seemed to be our official policy on the bee front, then yesterday my father ran inside screaming about bug-killing toxins and yelling at us to close all the doors and windows. I don’t know what bee-related horror I was expecting when my mother and I ran outside–nor do I know why I ran outside at all with a possible mutant bee rampage underway–but it wasn’t this:
At first it we had no idea what the hell we were looking at. They were shiny black things but there were so many of them moving, and their motion was so continuous, that it was impossible to see anything other than the movement itself.
For a moment I was half-convinced I wasn’t looking at anything natural at all, but rather some hideous Lovecraftian horror so beyond description that my mind was breaking just by looking at it.
Then I got a closer look, because for some reason it seemed like the best course of action was to put my face nearer to the swarming things.
Oh, I thought. Those are ants.
I didn’t get much further along in my thought process because at that moment my father came running out of the house with a can of ant killer and he started yelling at us because going outside to stand very close to the swarming insects was sort of the exact opposite thing he’d told my mother and I to do.
In hindsight, running inside only to come right back out with my camera was probably not the most helpful thing I could have done. Only I guess you can’t really call it “hindsight” when someone is standing right there and yelling at you to get out of the way so he can launch a chemical assault on the invaders.
Although technically the ants weren’t actually invading so much as they were leaving. A fact which my mother brought up after my father had hosed them down with poison–this time of the lethal and non-mutating variety.
Mom: “Why’d you have to kill them? They were leaving.”
Dad: “Those are queens. They’ll all start new colonies if we let them go.”
Mom: “Sure, but not in our yard.”
So depending on how you take that brief argument, my mother is either a caring lover of nature, or she has a total disregard for the health and well-being of our human neighbors.
Either way, I think I’m going to stay inside for a while and hope the mutant bees don’t find their way into the house itself.