The swelling went down after a day or so.

Amazing what a critter that doesn’t make it to an inch long can accomplish in the time it takes to think a simple thought.

I imagine that both of us figured we both were minding our own business — until that little bugger took offense at my being where I was being and delivered a stinging admonition just below the wrist bone.

And got away before I could squish her for her trouble.

Yeah, it’s that season again.

Yellow jackets. Nature’s way of making the first hard frost seem like a really good idea.

They’re the pain of late summer, inviting themselves to picnics and barbeques, to wedding receptions and family reunions; hitching a ride on gullet-bound hot dogs and taking a swim in the season’s last beer.

Oh, yeah, they’ve been around since spring. Winging their solitary way through June and July; lurking about until the late August ambush, descending upon us in quantity — toxic tail-points at the ready. Armed and annoying, if not downright dangerous.

Now my Bible-believing brethren will assure me they’re all part of God’s beneficent plan; and the Darwinists of my acquaintance will insist they occupy a vital evolutionary niche. But my persisting question is, “Why did He plan that niche so close to where I live?”

For that matter, what is that niche anyway?

Look, I see bumble bees crawling all over clover and honeybees heading in and out of petunias and bean blossoms, but the only place I see a yellow jacket is skulking along a window screen — too lazy, too mean to pollinate, looking for a cheap handout instead, sort of the armed robbers of the insect world.

Or six-legged terrorists. ‘Skeeters have mastered the sneaky spear-and-slurp method of helping themselves to what they want — passing along malaria, Lyme disease or yellow fever in the bargain. But at least those flying phlebotomists feed frogs and bats and dragon flies. Those doggone yellow jackets are too cranky to provide a square meal for anything I know of ... too cranky to find a welcome with any but their own kind.

Y’know, that’s an accomplishment. Darn near any species I can think of gets on with some other form of life. Heck, remora fish hang around great white sharks without becoming sushi. Oxpeckers roost on the orneriest rhinos on the savannah. Heck, dogs even seem to like the likes of us — and cats stick around if we feed them well.

But nothing or nobody likes having a yellow jacket around.

Much less a whole bunch of them.

Least of all me.

It was a few seasons back that I woke from a late-summer Sunday afternoon nap to find several dozen specky-things moving around on my living room window. Putting on my glasses, the specky-things refocused with wings, antennae and alternating black and yellow bands culminating in an ominously pointy posterior.

Even more ominously they were wandering about on the wrong side of the glass.

As I watched, two more buzzed past my head to join them.

As the door and all the windows were closed, this was earnestly disturbing. Some things you really don’t want calling your house their home.

A third flew in from the same direction. I stood and waited for No. 4, which soon followed, buzzing out of the darkened bathroom to the bright living room window. A ladder, plastic wrap, duct tape, and a shot of whiskey for courage put a Trump-tight Vespula vulgaris immigration barrier over the bathroom vent fan. Black Flag took care of the individuals that had already arrived.

Hours later, a very brave man with a very long pole carrying very toxic substances delivered the ultimate Hymenopteran eviction notice. I was very grateful to write a check that didn’t seem to be very large at all — considering.

Come the depths of January, it’s something to think about.

Jerome Christenson is editor at the Winona Daily News. His phone number is 507-453-3522 — leave a message if he’s not around — or email him at jerome.christenson@winonadailynews.com.

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