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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dacha Break Turns Into a War on Wasps

I'm a city person. I can't stand the dacha. My wife, Maria, on the other hand, could live in the country late into the fall. But this summer, when the heat became too much to bear, I agreed to spend five days at the dacha. When we got there, my son called from Moscow and told us not even to think about coming back. Smoke filled with carbonic acid gas from burning peat bogs was choking the city.

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I was having a pretty good time, truth be told. Our covered porch was the perfect place to escape the sun, and I didn't see a single mosquito, unlike last summer when they laid siege to the place.

But before long the wasps came calling. As soon as we'd put food on the outdoor table, they'd wing their way toward it as if they'd been tipped off in advance. When I went after one wasp, snapping at it with a rolled-up towel, it stung me on the wrist, which immediately swelled up like a balloon. Another found its way inside Maria's dress and stung her on the breast. Maria spent an entire day rubbing the welt with mush made from raw potatoes -- a folk cure she'd picked up somewhere.

"Call our son and tell him to buy some kind of pesticide for wasps," Maria said, almost weeping. "There must be something like that!"

But would you believe it, they make sprays to rid the home of cockroaches, mosquitoes, even ticks, but no one has come up with a wasp spray.

Our neighbor advised us to destroy the nest. The wasps at his house had built their nest under the rafters, and to get at it he had to lift off a section of the roof. We were lucky. Our wasps had nested in the dirt near the well.

"Excellent!" Maria exclaimed. "At night when they're asleep we'll send them to meet their maker!"

On the fateful day we dressed all in white, wrapped our heads in towels, grabbed some pails filled with boiling water and set out to scald the nest -- following a procedure we'd heard on the radio.

"Don't say a word," Maria said, "or you'll wake them up and we won't be able to get away in time."

Operation Wasp came off without a hitch, which is to say that we escaped unscathed. But in the morning the wasps were once more happily buzzing on the porch, forcing us to remain indoors.

We no longer wore bright colors, which we'd heard irritate the wasps. We set out bottles filled with water, the inside of their necks spread with jam. The wasps eagerly crawled in and drowned. The next night we repeated Operation Wasp, but the following morning the beasts were back.

When Maria heard that a man had died when a wasp stung him on the carotid artery, she proclaimed: "We're going back to Moscow!"

I readily agreed, of course. And even though the wasps made it possible for me to wind up the dacha season early, I'd still like to know: Why are the scientists in Russia and America powerless to control these winged terrorists? We can send humans into space, but we can't rid our dachas of wasps.

Vladislav Schnitzer is a journalist and pensioner living in Moscow.