With the Fourth of July holiday coming up this week, many Americans will be heading outdoors for the traditional cookout, fireworks and flag-waving and also so they don’t have to watch the president appropriate the historical event for yet another re-election campaign rally.
The last time a sitting president commandeered an Independence Day for their own benefit was, well, never. But most recognized the day as a celebration of country, not of self. But, of course, with the current president, everything is about self – himself.
That being said, it’s probably a good thing most of us will abandon the TV and head outside for some good summer fun this week. Weather and wasps allowing, of course. We’ve had rain of biblical proportions here in Oxford so far this year, so much so that my usually reliable home weather station recently threw in the rain-soaked towel and gave up. As I write this and look at the weather display on my desk on Monday morning, it reads a temperature of 136 degrees and a heat index of 199. At 6:30 in the morning.
I hope it has just become discombobulated after years of reliable service but, then again, maybe that reading isn’t too far off.
Say what you will about climate change, but there are signals out there from sources that don’t subscribe to scientific journals and never heard of carbon emissions, greenhouse effects or fossil fuels that indicate something ain’t right with the weather. Some of them will likely be uninvited guests at your barbecue this week.
Remember the classic line from the Woody Allen movie, “Annie Hall” where Allen is asked to remove “a spider as big as a Buick” from the title character’s bathtub? Well, entomologists in Alabama are reporting finding wasp nests “as big as a Volkswagen Beetle” this summer. And not just wasps, but their deadlier cousins, yellow jackets.
They estimate some of the gigantic nests reported so far this year could each contain as many as 15,000 of the stinging, annoying insects. The nests are appearing all over the state leaving Republican candidates in Alabama’s upcoming U.S. Senate race desperate to find a way to sign them up to vote.
Others are comparing the size of the massive insect colonies to a Democratic presidential debate.
The bug experts say milder winters are to blame for the growth of the nests. Most wasps and yellow jackets normally die off over the colder winter months leaving only the queens, which possess a type of natural antifreeze. Those usually survive and start new colonies from scratch in the spring. Not anymore, the experts say. The nests aren’t dying out over the winter as they should, but are continuing to grow over multiple years getting bigger and bigger each year.
Entomologists are warning Alabama residents not to try and remove the nests themselves, but to call in the experts. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me to read about the sad deaths of a few Billy Bobs who, after a few too many beers, decided to take an industrial size can of bug spray to a VW-sized stinging insect nest.
It’s just how nature works. Survival of the fittest – and less stupid.