Sympathy for the (Little) Devils


I recently wrote about my war with the yellow jackets. After they attacked me for daring to blow leaves near their underground lair, I counterattacked. Unsuccessfully and painfully. But several days later, armed with advice from my fellow bloggers, Trudy and I committed full-scale waspicide.

We waited till dark when the entrance was unattended, then sprayed a big dose of bug killer in the hole and dropped a heavy cement paver on top of it. We completed the assault by building a rim of dirt around the newly-installed headstone.

I had mixed emotions. I knew it was necessary, but it also seemed a bit macabre. “Maybe we should say a few last words,” I suggested. My wife punched me in the arm and told me I was too soft-hearted (I suspect she meant “soft-headed”).

The next day, the Great Tomb of the Wasps was haunted by two lone yellow jackets. They’d apparently been on reconnaissance during Waspmageddon, and were the only survivors. They looked so forlorn wandering around the sepulcher. After another two days, I firmly but gently put them out of their (or my?) misery with the sole of my shoe.

Then I said a prayer. Go ahead, laugh. I may indeed be a soft-headed sentimentalist. But I can’t help feeling an innate sense of respect for all Creation, even the so-called “pests”? Could it be some indwelling sense that “all creatures great and small” have a greater role to play in The Grand Scheme than we understand?

Anyway, like a Cheyenne warrior thanking the spirit of the buffalo he’s just slain (too over-the-top?), I spoke words of gratitude and remorse. I long for the day that “the wolf shall lie down with the lamb” and the yellow jackets shall live peaceably with the humans. Or, well, not “with,” but preferably…

In different parts of Paradise.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Sympathy for the (Little) Devils

  1. Reading this reminds me of the time I brought home a cool looking seed pod ( I thought it was, anyway). I left it in my pants pocket and my mom washed it. It survived intact, so she sat it on laundry room shelf. Several weeks later, she came in to find one wall and part of the ceiling covered by baby praying mantises! I’ll never forget how she got the vacuum and sucked them all into dusty oblivion. I said an eight year old’s eulogy for my prayer warrior insect friends that day.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. “I long for the day that “the wolf shall lie down with the lamb” and the yellow jackets shall live peaceably with the humans.”

    Yup, you are definitely my brother. It hurts my heart to kill flies, mosquitoes, wasps, spiders, even the black widows. It definitely does. Eating meat also hurts my heart, although I do eat it, for my health. People who go hunting for ‘fun’ rather than necessity, I don’t understand.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Maurodigital says:

    Nice post, but awful picture! I Hate wasps! They are evil!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. gregoryjoel says:

    I am deathly allergic to wasps. I’ve ended up in the ER a couple of times because of those little buggers. However, wasps are great at pest control. They also love purple hull peas for some reason – they don’t hang around anything else at the farm – and work as pollinators as well. I initially thought harvesting those peas was beyond my ability. However, I found that I can pull the peas the wasps are on and they simply move to the next one.

    I, too, find it difficult to to harm them these days – that is until one decided to build a nest next to the lock on the barn door. I finally had to admit we could not coexist under the circumstances so I destroyed the nest and one of the adults in the process. When the other adult came looking for the nest my heart broke for him. I felt like I’d murdered his (or her) spouse and left them alone and homeless.

    People always ask what possible good could come from animals we consider “pests”. I’ve discovered that people’s definition of “pest” is much like the definition of “Weeds” – something that grows where it’s not supposed to. I’ve seen some beautiful “weeds”. Everything has it’s place in God’s creation. Sometimes we don’t like where it is.

    I long for the day when the “lion lays down with the lamb”. I often wonder if heaven is simply realizing the wonder of God’s world and loving it. Until then I keep my distance from wasps nest.

    Liked by 7 people

  5. BGCT2VA says:

    A number of years ago I was unfortunate enough to be stung over 140 times by these little demons. After being rushed to the hospital by a fellow wood-cutter, I was given intravenous doses of anti-histamine followed up by anti-antibiotics – they are dirty as as well as nasty. I can unequivocally state that your solution was far more gentle than what I might have done. Perhaps these critters are God’s reminder that the Devil is real!!

    Liked by 7 people

  6. Ah … I see you went for the stealth attack mode. Likely the better plan.

    The prayer was a nice touch. In the spring, see that the wasps get a nice home – far away from your house.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Julia says:

    Must admit although deadly to those who are allergic that black and yellow are very pretty and shows Gods beauty .But on the other hand the human side of things is God has also made us in His image yet we are instructed to not take company with some or even eat with them. So Mitch it looks like you did what was needful,but with a sypathetic heart God has placed within you.God Bless you.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. debbitoo says:

    I’m new to your blog but had to tell you I loved this! You’re quite the writer, and I had a good laugh, which is one of my favorite things to do. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I left the murder to my neighbor who’s wife was seriously allergic to yellow jackets, hornets, and wasps. I was stung while trying to pound in spikes into landscape logs. Made me stop wanting to work in the yard. I asked a Buddhist friend about the killing of bugs that plague my home. He said I have a right to defend myself, so I do. Nothing more. Nothing wrong with being a softy. It’s an honoring of all things in our world.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. tidalscribe says:

    Your wasps look much more exotic than our English ones.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Not sure yellow jackets will be in the same heaven we’ll be in. I think it was C.S. Lewis who quipped that if God wanted a heaven for mosquitoes and a hell for men, that could probably be arranged … 😏

    Liked by 2 people

  12. robstroud says:

    I wonder what the pre-Fall nature of the yellow jacket was like. Hopefully we’ll see that one day. In the meantime, they have declared war on us, and we are merely acting in self-defense.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    This may have made a good Pixar film with a little editing.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Thank you. I’m allergic to bees and they built their home over my front door. I sprayed the wasps’ nest and cried as they writhed around on my porch.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Unicorn Dreaming says:

    Oh I am glad you said the prayer for them.. I believe we and all creatures are one at heart.. 😊💛😊

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Beck says:

    I love the American Indian approach to nature. Thanking nature for its sacrifice is a beautiful sentiment… and reminds us all what sacrifice means and is.
    I feel sorry for the little devils. 😔

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Personally, I hope mosquitoes and their kin don’t make it to heaven.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ann Coleman says:

    Ha! Yes, I can accept the idea of yellow jackets in Heaven, but sincerely hope that they are in a part of it that is far, far, away from the rest of us. But seriously, I know what you mean. Even though I regularly kill the bugs I see in my house, I often feel guilty about it afterwards. They were just living their lives, same as the rest of us, and I killed them. It doesn’t really feel right on some levels.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. gpavants says:


    I feel your torn pain between destroying an enemy and hurting God’s creatures. No clean cut feelings.



    Liked by 1 person

  20. willedare says:

    Yes. We are all woven together in ways that are sometimes obvious and sometimes not-yet-obvious. Ideally we find ways to co-exist with respect. I especially liked the comments this post inspired — such as the farmer who appreciates the pest control and pollination some wasps provide…and tries to keep a healthy distance from them.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. exhebdenmick says:

    I read something, just today, that sort of resonated with your idea of different parts of paradise for different critters.
    Someone was saying that having a COVID National Lockdown in England whilst keeping schools and universities open was a bit like having a Designated Peeing area in a swimming pool.
    I rather think your little yellow jackets might stray too.
    Nice to see the follow-up.

    Liked by 1 person

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