We're all wondering how we can save our beloved ash trees, also known as "the trees we didn't know were ashes until this thing with the borer came up." As reported in this paper this week by the intrepid Bill McAuliffe, the state has released thousands of "stingless wasps" to foil the borers and save the trees.


I think we all know where this is going.

Oct. 21, 2010: "Thank you for coming by to watch us release more -- ow! -- stingless wasps. These are the natural predators of the ash -- ouch! -- borer, and they will be feasting on the pest for many months to come. The stingless wasp -- OW! Excuse me, it's like something's down my shirt, hold on ... there. Thought mosquito season was over! Hah! Anyway, the stingless wasp is related to the stinging wasp, or constantus pokus, but they're not on good terms and they don't even speak over the holidays. Any questions?"

May 4, 2011: A new conference by the University of Minnesota Center for Insect Reevaluation revealed that the stingless wasp had either quickly evolved into a stinging wasp or had been lying all along about the not-stinging part. "Insects have adapted over the millennia to adopt various ruses, depending on the situation," said department head Prof. Lysenko, "which is one of the reasons any census data they give is virtually useless." The professor added that clouds of stinging wasps that hung over the city would probably be gone eventually, but he advised people to stay indoors for the duration, preferably in a bathtub, fully immersed, breathing through straws. "Use colorful, bendy straws," he added. "Make a game of it!"

June 13, 2011: The city announced it would release Canadian Wasphawks to deal with the persistent wasp issue. The mayor held the ceremony on the green roof of City Hall, and the bird flew straight up, then dove at a reporter and went for the eyes. People were advised to carry tennis rackets for the duration and learn to tuck into a protective crouch.

July 23, 2011 The Wikipedia entry for the Canadian Wasphawk was edited to include the phrase "not only aggressive, but fantastically incontinent." The city announced it would be sanding the streets to keep people from slipping.

Aug. 11, 2011: In an effort described as "the last, best hope," 50,000 bats were imported to deal with the Canadian Wasphawk situation. Initial plans had worked as expected -- the hawks had eaten the stinging wasps, but this allowed the explosion of the crimson blood-beetle population, which the Wasphawks loved to eat even more. It was believed that the bats would feed on the beetles, reducing the food for the Wasphawks, who would leave and take their useless sphincters with them, preferably to South Dakota.

September 2011: The state government passed an emergency measure authorizing $3 million for the eradication of the bats, most of which had taken up roosting in the State Capitol. "When you see them pouring out of the dome at night, every night, maybe off to suck blood," said one legislator, "it's just a bad visual. Especially around election time. It's an off-year, but still." Half the money would be used for bounties, with citizens given $5 for every bat.

Oct. 14, 2011: They're calling it "the Month of the Late Welts," as mosquito infestations are at record levels. With almost no bats to control the population, mosquito season has pushed deep into fall. University officials say this crop of mosquitoes are "not just numerous, but incredibly cocky." To combat the plague, officials have taken the drastic step of spraying with a new, experimental chemical XD-95, with the tentative approval of the PCA.

Nov. 25, 2011: Star Tribune headline: "Brown Christmas? All the evergreens are dead; officials blame XD-95."

Dec. 23, 2011: Headline: "Officials say emerald ash borer eliminated."

May 1, 2012: Tree experts cite new threat to ash trees, the Ash Smut, and believe it will be months before anyone can say it without snickering. The state announces new initiative to chop down all ash trees and replace them with oaks.

July 3, 2014: The Striped Oak-Chewer is spotted in Iowa. Scientists said the only natural enemy of the Striped Oak-Chewer is the emerald ash borer, which has been completely eliminated. Reached for comment, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Department of the Outdoor Part of the State simply sighed, said, "Whatever," and hung up the phone.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 More daily at www.startribune.com/blogs/lileks.