PUZZLE SOLVED

From: Meridian, ID:

The only good thing about decisions reached by a committee is that the blame for such decisions will be shared among the committee members.

***

(Four days' trapping.)

(Four days’ trapping.)

Back in early August, I posted a Blather that included a couple of paragraphs about my yellowjacket traps, and describing how one of the three simply would not snare any…well, no more than a handful, anyhow. It was quite a puzzle for me, and up until yesterday I could not fathom the reason. The traps, themselves, were identical…as was the bait. They were located very near each other in the back yard (one of the three remained in the front yard), and yet over a period of a few days, one caught ten or twelve of the flying varmints while the other caught hundreds.

(The "bad" trap after repair.)

(The “bad” trap after repair.)

Yesterday, I squirted some “refresher” bait liquid on the cotton wadding inside the interior of the bait cone. While doing so, I noticed – for the first time in many inspections of the device – that two small pieces of plastic had been chipped from the bottom edge of the large interior cone. I had never seen the damage, previously, and even if I had, I may have overlooked it as not being important. This time as I reassembled the thing, I noticed that the spots where the plastic corners had been broken off aligned with the small vents in the bottom of the trap. In so doing, two small “escape holes” were created. Tah Dah! Which meant that the bugs were going in through the four entrance holes on the bottom of the trap, but then almost immediately discovered the “escape holes” as they inspected the circumference of the bottom compartment.

I’m not sure why they decided it was important to get out of that area so soon…the smell of the bait, located directly above them, must have been nearly overpowering. Of course there were a few that kept going, flying (or crawling) up the interior of the large cone and squeezing out the hole in the top to the larger compartment. And once they did that, they were goners…never choosing to go back through the hole at the top of the cone. But, as I said, most made their getaway from the smaller, first compartment.

(One of the masking tape repairs is visible in one of the rectangular "windows" near the bottom of the trap.)

(One of the masking tape repairs is visible in one of the rectangular “windows” near the bottom of the trap.)

I used some masking tape to cover the corners where the plastic had been broken away and, after putting the trap back together, hung it near the other one. The difference was dramatic! From the first moment both traps were hung with fresh scent bait, they performed exactly alike. After two hours, six individual yellowjackets in both traps; this morning, an even dozen carcasses in both traps. When last I checked – about an hour ago – the newly repaired trap was significantly ahead of the other one, with twenty (or so) small corpses and another 15 or 20 still flying/crawling in the large compartment. The (previously) “good” trap had only a half dozen of the pesky things still moving around above (and among) their dead cousins. VOILA! Problem solved.

The more difficult question (to me) about these traps is, “Why do they work so well?” (When pieces aren’t broken off of them, that is.) It seems counter-intuitive, but evidently there is something in the thinking of a yellowjacket that makes them loathe to crawl down a hole. The entrance holes are flush with the bottom of the trap, but have walls perhaps a half-inch high rising up from the floor of that lower compartment. We now know hey will dang sure find their way out through holes in the side of the little room…but are apparently unable to do the same thing by going back down an entrance hole that they just used to get in the place. And it’s the same thing in the larger compartment, the one in which they eventually kick the bucket. Every bug in there came through the same little hole at the top of the cone, and many crawl all around – and over – that same hole. I have seen one actually crawl back down it, but in no time at all it had come back up and in to the death chamber. I’ve not seen another do the same thing. (I should mention, here, that I don’t spend all my days watching yellow jackets…certainly a number of them may have tried going back down the cone. But, judging from the numbers of dead ones, not many have escaped that way.) Obviously, who ever came up with the design of the trap knew something about yellowjacket behavior, but I still wonder why such an instinct would be a part of the bugs’ teeny-tiny brain. They even nest in holes in the ground quite often. To do so means they have to crawl down into the entrance to the hive, and judging by their summertime numbers there must be very few who won’t do that. Go figure.

At any rate, I was quite pleased with myself for solving the problem of the poorly performing trap. By the way, the brand of trap I use is “Rescue.” Part of the company’s advertising states that beneficial honeybees will not be trapped, and I can vouch for the veracity of that statement. In the years I’ve been trapping yellowjackets, I have never seen the body of a honeybee inside one.

***

Today I made a grocery-shopping trip. Janet had an appointment for a haircut and coloring and, since I’ve told her many times that I really don’t mind grocery shopping, she asked if I would go for a few things. She had clipped a number of coupons, and today being “senior discount” Tuesday at the store, she was anxious to get the trip done today. (She very much dislikes this household chore.) Usually, when it happens that I am making the trip, we go over the shopping list together, making sure I understand the “shorthand” she normally uses. This time, we skipped that step as I was doing something online and she was running a bit late.

Imagine my surprise, then, when at the store I discovered “panties” near the bottom of the list. Checking the coupons stapled to the paper, I found that, sure enough, one of the coupons advertised “Buy 2 Packs, Get 1 Pack Free,” good for three different brands of panties. The item on the list was not a mistake; it was not an abbreviation for plums, or pans, or pears.

So, grabbing the bull by the hornets, so to speak, I ventured into the “Ladies Apparel” section of the store. I had to ask a young lady employee where to find the panties and she was kind enough to show me without smirking. (I told her in no uncertain terms that, had I known that item was on the shopping list, I would definitely have declined the shopping job!)

Thankfully, she left me alone after she led me to the section of the store I was looking for. Come to think of it, her hasty retreat probably was sparked by a fear that I was soon going to ask her, “Well…I don’t know my wife’s size in panties. What size do you wear?”

I was at a loss. Too many different styles; way to0 many different sizes; an incredible array of different colors. So I did the only thing I could do at that point: I ignored that item on my list. But I did mention the quandary I had been in to the young man working the checkout aisle as I was leaving. He said I positively did the right thing. “It was a test,” he said, “…and there was no way you could have passed it! Buy something too brief, or in too small a size…you would have proven yourself to be dense…a complete idiot. Or worse yet, buy something too large…well, have fun in the doghouse for the next 3 years! Oh, yeah…you did the right thing! No question about it!” I thanked him for clearing that up for me and got the heck out of the store.

But before that, after leaving the women’s lingerie area, and while doing the remainder of the items on the list, I only had to ask twice for help reading Jan’s shorthand. My excuse? I had left my reading glasses in the truck. Both times, the employees were easily able to translate. Clpbd? Clipboard, of course. Dryon? Dried onion? “…in the spice department, sir.” Make a note, Bud: Never take a shopping list that you haven’t verified with Janet before you go.

***

We’ve had an unusual August here in southwestern Idaho. Unusual because we had only one day of 100+ temperature. On August 11th, it reached 102 degrees. (I was on my way to Vancouver, B.C. for salmon fishing when on that date. I missed it. Dang the luck.) I believe summer generally brings ten or twelve days over 100, and those almost always come in August. This year, they occurred in July. So we have gotten acclimated, now, to almost Fall-ish weather, with cool nights (in the fifties and sixties) and days sometimes not even breaking 80 degrees. It has been quite nice.

I hope you’re having good weather where you are, although based on the nightly news, there’s a good chance you’re not. Be happy anyhow…it will all pass.

Bud

 

 

6 Responses

  1. Janet says:

    THANK YOU!!!!! Even though you brought home no panties, I thank you for that, too. :-)

  2. Jerry Howard says:

    I am glad that you don’t have an ant hill in the back yard. If you started pondering the workings of an ant hill you wouldn’t get anything done. :)

    • Bud Larson says:

      Hi Jer, The good news is that I don’t have anything I have to get done. Oh…well…except for the occasional shopping trip. Ol’ Bud

  3. Ron Boy says:

    You need some moles!

    • Bud Larson says:

      Hi Ron, What a great idea! What with the whistle pigs being “downstairs” for six more months, yet, and the tree squirrels turned in to a bunch of scaredy cats (afraid to come around), a few moles would give me a purpose in life. Of course I probably wouldn’t be too popular with the rest of the Idahoans…but then, I’m not too popular with them, anyway. Later, Ol’ Bud

  4. Jerry Howard says:

    Ron is right! And I just happen to have some moles for sale. Pre-owned and slightly used.

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