How to kill wasps, the Salvadoran way
But, a toddler, a small garden in a residencia in El Salvador and several thousand wasps are not a good combination.
I was absolutely clueless as to how we were going to get rid of our unwanted guests, I could blame that on being an expat in a foreign country, with a barely passable grasp of the language, but to be truthful I probably would not have had any more idea of how to deal with it at home in the UK.
It was an interesting journey, involving Expat Mamasita wielding a broom handle and a hosepipe, a gardener throwing a smoke bomb and several firemen with a couple of packets of Rinso and a black bag.
I hope that you find my account of our wasp nest extermination interesting, and I sincerely hope that you never have any unwanted infestations in your house or garden.
Papacito's Big Understatement
I thought no more about, after all we live in the tropics and there are insects everywhere. Next morning I went out into the garden to peg some washing on the line to dry.
"Oh my God! Quick! There are wasps! Everywhere! Puchica!!!!" This was my much more dramatic, and in my opinion realistic outburst (toned down somewhat!!)
In the corner of our smallish garden we had decided to build a compost bin, figuring that the tropical heat would help to break the waste down fast and we would be helping the environment. We had used an unwanted garbage bin, drilled holes in it and placed it in a corner of the garden.
This worked well in theory, for seven months......until today!
Mamasita on a mission!
I grabbed the hosepipe, knocked the lid off the bin with a broom handle and proceeded to drown the little blighters. All I succeeded in doing was annoying them, and suddenly I realised just how big the problem was! There were thousands of wasps buzzing angrily around the bin and heading my way, so I made a tactical retreat.
Amazingly I did not get stung!
I decided to go to the hardware store to see if they had anything. As I drove out of our residencia I spotted the gardener and explained to him the problem (in my best Spanglish).
"Es muy grande problemo. En el jardin! Muchas avispas!" I'm sure you get the gist of it: "Is very big problem. In the garden. Many wasps!"
The gardeners answer was to come and take a look, agree that yes, we did in fact have "muchas avispas" and decide that the answer was to smoke them out. He disappeared and returned with some fuel, a match and a rolled up piece of paper. He proceeded to light the paper and threw it into the compost bin. He assured us that within a couple of hours all of the wasps would have vacated their smoking home!
Two hours later and the wasps were still in situ and showing no signs of leaving.
Now I was stumped......how on earth are we going to get rid of them?
Call the Fire Brigade?
At first I thought they were joking, and imagined calling the fire brigade back home in the UK for a similar problem! I'd be laughed at then told to get a pest exterminator in. I had nothing to lose, apart from my dodgy Spanish, so I managed to get hold of the phone number for the "Bombero", and got my trusty maid to call for me!
And what do you think their advice was?
After asking just how big the problem was (and apparently ours was only a small problem)
"Go buy 1.5kg of Rinso (washing detergent) and a can of insect spray and call us back."
I went straight to the Despensa don Juan and returned with the Rinso (2kgs to be on the safe side) and a new can of Baygon Ultra (tropical strength insect killer). Arriving back home, to find the garden still full of wasps I wasted no time in calling in them back.
They took my address and said they would call. Then it was just a waiting game.
I handed the phone to my maid so that she could explain where we were and then she went to wait at the bottom of the road to make sure they could find us. Within minutes the fire engine and a whole crew of hunky Salvadoran firemen were outside my house.
I was suitably impressed. Two hours from my initial phone call and they were here.
What is the Rinso for?
Two of the firemen came into the garden to inspect the problem, and as I opened the patio doors we were deafened by the loudest buzzing I have ever heard! The firemen did not wear protective clothing, and not surprisingly two firemen were only in the garden for a matter of seconds before they were stung. I didn't hang around, I sprinted back into the safety of the house.
One fireman returned to the engine to get his gear, and returned with a tank. He didn't realise that I had closed the patio door to keep the wasps out and walked straight into it with an almighty thud. There was an immediate uproar of laughter from his fellow firemen who were following him, and us. Some humour is cross-cultural.
We then discovered what the Rinso was for. He had mixed it with water and it was in a tank on his back. The guy with the tank proceeded to walk carefully towards the wasps nest. When he got right up close to it, and a lot further than I had dared to, he sprayed the Rinso into the compost bin. Within a couple of minutes his tank was empty and there were just a few wasps flying above his head
I needn't have worried. They asked if I had a large rubbish bag and proceeded to tip the contents of the bin into the bag. They got the entire contents of the bin into one large bag, carried it and the now unwanted compost bin outside and left them for the refuse men.
Here in El Salvador the refuse guys sort through the rubbish to see if there is anything that can be recycled or sold. I do not envy them when they discover a few wasps with sore heads!
They checked around the garden for any further signs of wasps and then they were on their way.
A Wasp Free Garden Again
Maybe having a compost bin in a small garden in the tropics is not the best idea after all, so we decided to get rid of it.
And, just in case you were wondering about the can of insect spray that they asked me to buy. They didn't need it.
So, three hours, two bags of Rinso and a crew of firemen to restore our garden to toddler friendly safety.