Apparently the skunks didn’t do any more damage overnight to the yellowjacket nest. Not that there was anything left to damage, as near as I can see. The skunks did a pretty thorough job the night before. I felt sad seeing the few insects buzzing around during the day. The most I saw at any one time was five, and they hovered around the remains, which really is little more than a big hole where the nest was, and, me projecting perhaps, they seemed at a loss for what to do. The center of their lives was destroyed. Building and maintaining the nest, caring for brood, developing queens, that was their life. In a brief time that was all taken from them. It’s as if I lost this house and my money and were put out on the street by predatory bankers and tax officials. Most of the yellowjackets would have died soon in any event, leaving only overwintering queens who would go out to establish new colonies in the Spring, but still, they had until November or so. Now there are just a few survivors, left with nothing, trying to follow instincts that no longer have purpose. Instead of dying as part of a nest, a colony, a community, they’ll die alone, separated from all they knew. This saddens me immensely. I’m sad for them, and sad for myself that I can empathize so strongly – but I think it is not so much empathy as it is projection, shining my fears on the screen of their destruction. And yet, for them, it is highly unlikely that the event is fraught with emotion. They operate on instinct, on ancient patterns of behavior. I suspect that the few survivors flying in and out of the few shreds of nest the skunks left were attempting to repair and rebuild. It’s what they do. They don’t see the task as impossible or fruitless. They simply act as they have always acted. They neither hope nor despair. They simply go on until they cannot and they die.