Know Your Enemy

cicada killer top“Hey, we all have our fear.  Mine is bugs and lobsters!” –Brooke Burke

“Hey, we all have our fear.  Mine is having to do bug homework for the rest of my life!”  –Jeff Brown

There’s blood on my hands.  Before you call the cops on me, it’s not real blood per se, but the metaphorical kind with a hint of bug spray.   Excuse me for a moment.

Okay, I’m back.  Sorry I took so long.  I usually wash my hands for the duration it takes to hum “Happy Birthday,” but I was unsure of the amount of time it takes to wash Wasp and Hornet Spray off my fingers.  To be safe, I threw in the national anthem too.

I’m not terribly proud of my recent murderous behavior, but it had to be done.  Besides, I feel violence was justified because I’m living in a state of war.  Well, maybe not a real war per se, but more of an out-my-front-door contingency operation.   Believe me when I say I’m usually a peace and love, live and let live, don’t take any wooden nickels kind of guy.  (Okay, that last idiom doesn’t really prove my point, but I’m doing my best to spread the word.)

Definitely not tectonic activity.

Definitely not tectonic activity.

It all started a couple months ago when I noticed several little volcano shaped mounds of earth in the flower garden near my front door.  Before I could check my homeowner’s insurance to see if it covered molten lava, a hideously gigantic wasp emerged from the caldera.  It was black and yellow and apparently really annoyed with me.

It launched itself into the air, looped around with a threatening buzz, and dive-bombed me World War II style.  Yes, I was suddenly and deliberately attacked!  It was like the Battle of Midway between my driveway and front door.  I countered by flailing my arms wildly and bumping my head against the mail box.

I spent the next few days entering and exiting my home cautiously, always being mindful not to make direct eye contact with the hornet, hoping it would leave me alone.  I’ve used this strategy successfully to avoid confrontation ever since childhood, although sometimes I’ve had to change up my tactics, such as running real fast or taking a different route home from school.

This time, however, my strategy wasn’t working and the wasp was getting even bolder.  (I didn’t give him my lunch money, but I did do his homework once.)  It got so bad I mentioned to my wife that we might have to move to a different neighborhood.

That’s when it happened.  That’s the moment when something inside of me snapped and I knew I had to grow a spine.  I had a wife and herd of pets to protect.  But what was a scrawny, middle-aged guy with no military training supposed to do?

The ancient Chinese warrior Sun Tzu once said, “Know your enemy,” so I searched “big scary wasp” online.  I soon found myself experiencing way too much information because staring back at me was a picture of the wasp reaching home base with his girlfriend.

cicada sex

Yes, my nemesis was a Lady Killer.

Oops, Freudian slip.  I mean my assailant was a Cicada Killer.

Cicada killers are large, solitary, ground dwelling, predatory wasps and are so named because they usually hunt cicadas, but get occasional cravings for scrawny middle-aged men.  The highest diversity of them in North America occurs in the region between Jeff Brown’s driveway and front door.  They use their venom mainly to paralyze cicadas, which they take back to their nests to feed their young.

I couldn’t believe my eyes– the wasps were breeding an enemy army– right outside my front door!  To make matters worse, I found a dead cicada laying on my front step one morning.  I took this as a message clearly stating:  “Jeff, you’re next.”

dead cicada

Dead Cicada: it’s what’s for dinner.

Interesting fact:  According to a recent government study, holding a gun makes you look bigger and stronger.

I wondered if it would work with a can of bug spray.

“Know your enemy.”  I repeated the phrase as I drove to the hardware store.  When I explained my situation to the woman behind the counter, she suggested I dump gasoline down the holes, but didn’t recommend lighting it.

I smiled politely as I paid for a big can of bug spray.

For best results, spray a safe distance from the nest with the wind at your back using one of the following shooting techniques:

  1. The quick draw
  2. Ten Paces at noon. 
  3. Backwards using a mirror.  (This method should only be attempted by a professional.)

After much experimentation, I invented an ambush technique in which I opened the front door, fired off a squirt, and shut the door real fast before the wasp could get me.  I’ve lost count, perhaps due to the fog of war, or maybe it was all the chemicals drifting in the breeze, but I’ve killed at least fifteen wasps over the past month RIGHT OUTSIDE MY FRONT DOOR.

arm out door

Yes, it’s true.  I am a Cicada Killer Killer, and a have the empty cans of Raid to prove it.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m not terribly proud of my murderous behavior, but at least I can rest assured knowing my wife and lunch money are safe.  And perhaps it’s my imagination, but I think the cicadas are singing just a little bit louder tonight.