It's dark at last. The last wasps have homed in their paper castles underneath the eaves. No wind tonight. Tight-lipped, we make our fatal preparations: find matches, test flashlights, pour gasoline on lances tipped with rags. Battle lines are drawn. The sides are not unbalanced by disparity in size of adversaries: one sting, and all the benadryl some distant clinic could dispense would not suffice, nor be in time. We are that vulnerable. A Russian roulette game, but here some thousand loaded chambers tip the odds. We know the nest, edge close. Our beams are muted lasers. Dare not shine too long: they might confuse them with the sun. The papier mache is hung with skinny bodies of mahogany and gold. Wings glisten, not yet really folded for the night, just twitching temporarily atop the elongated abdomens. Stingers almost visible . . . Lights off! Strike the match, ignite the gasoline. Torches flare. We are primordial warriors. Now! Stretch tall -- More steadily -- Dry splinters blaze, fade out. There! Back off! The nest bursts red. Some wounded bodies tumble forth, dull buzz, slip through the bushes, drop unseen on black ground. Inside the hive all must be dead. The torch tip scrapes the glowing nest: with one swift curetage, we've got them all. Escapees charge our torch -- Quick, it's almost out -- We have it, burn them, crash back, retreat indoors. Shaking, now it's over, we swear we'll never tackle that again. All night, throughout our nightmares, zoom scorched air forces of avenging wasps. Next morning, under smudgy eaves, a few survivors reconnoiter. . . Wherever two or three are clustered, there a new gray paper nest starts taking shape.