Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Get Rid of Those Stinging Insects

My dad is recovering from radical surgery and unable to really do much of anything for next month or so. His biggest concern is his garden so I've taken over the task of watering, weeding, collecting ripened tomatoes from the vine, etc. It's good for me to get out there and spend time in nature. Besides, all that bending and dragging the hose across the yard is good exercise.

This past Saturday, while watering the garden, I stepped into a nest of bees. Actually, they weren't bees. They were yellow jackets. Yellow jackets are sometimes mistakenly called "bees", but they are actually in the wasp classification. They build their nests in trees, shrubs, or in protected places such as inside human-made structures (attics, hollow walls or flooring, in sheds, under porches, and eaves of houses), or in soil cavities, mouse burrows, etc. My yellow jackets have set up residence in the ground close to the water spigot on the side of the house.

At first, I felt one tiny prick and then pain came with a vengeance. My pants (thankfully I was wearing a pair of long yoga pants) were covered with yellow jackets- dozens of them repeatedly stinging and injecting me with their venom.  They were quickly working their way up around my arms and face.

"Oh, God! Not the face!" I thought as I moved like lightening across the yard, those little stinging creatures still attacking.  I did what seemed most logical at that moment.  I tore my yellow jacket- covered-clothing from my body and ran naked and screaming into the house.  I don't think my feet ever actually touched the ground. Thankfully, no one was around to witness this ridiculous, hysterical display.

Safe inside the house, I assessed the damage. My legs, feet and arms were covered in welts. I counted at least twenty-five spots on my body where I had been stung.  I removed several stingers that had been deposited under my skin, crying the entire time.  I've been stung before and never had a reaction but this time I was certain I would slip into anaphylactic shock. I am still here so obviously, that did not happen. I just suffered with burning aches and pains for the remainder of the day.

Later on, I shared my mishap with my dad. He laughed so hard I was sure he would tear out the staples and stitches holding his body together post-surgery.  He managed to drag himself into the garage and reappeared with a huge spray can of wasp and hornet poison.

"Go out at dusk and spray those little suckers to death!" he said.

"Oh, no, Daddy," I replied. "I can't kill them and besides, we shouldn't be breathing in that poison or putting it into the air!"

 My father already thinks I am strange with my vegetarian, tree-hugging ways. Now he believes I am just plumb loco for not wanting to completely annihilate these little bastards.

I have been researching ways to eliminate these pests in the most humane way possible. I don't really want to kill them. I just want them to go someplace else. Or, just leave me the hell alone.  Friends have offered all kinds of advice on the subject. The big old spray can of poison seems to be pretty popular. So is finding the nest and setting it on fire. I can't do that! The very thought of those little yellow jackets burning to death would keep me awake for months.

Another friend suggested this:

If the nest is in the ground (where I do believe my little friends are hiding), just pour gasoline right into the hole and that will take care of them.

Pour gasoline into the GROUND?  Don't you people know me at all?

Wait! There's more!

Apparently, yellow jackets LOVE fish.  I found a remedy which involves tying a piece of fish over a bucket of sudsy water. This is an open invitation for the yellow jackets to come on over for a feast.

Here"s how it works:

The yellow jackets love fish and will begin to cut off small pieces to take back to the nest. In their "excitement" of buzzing around the bait a few will occasionally hit the water. The soap in the water breaks the surface tension of the waterproof coating on the yellow jacket and it instantly sinks in the water and drowns in a few seconds. Some yellow jackets will successfully haul a piece of meat back to the nest and tell all the other gatherers in the nest where this great food source is. Soon all the wasps from the nest will be working on this fish and over a period of time, all will eventually make mistakes and either fall off the fish and into the water or bump other wasps flying around and knock themselves in the drink, then its curtains for them too. It only takes a day or two to wipe out nearly every yellow jacket in your area.

Okay, this is a non-toxic way to entice yellow jackets away from their nest.  I am just not comfortable with whole idea of them being seduced into drowning in a huge bubble bath. Not to mention, I will attract every stray cat within a five mile radius.

I don't think this is going to work either.

My situation is hopeless. I can't spray, ignite or gas them and there's no way in hell I am going to lure the yellow jackets to their cruel death with a piece of raw, rotting fish. I have a bit of a dilemma here and I am not going back out there until it is resolved.

The nest is in the back yard in an area where no one goes unless they need to use the hose. For the next few months, that would be me. The nest is far away from the deck and the part of the yard where my little niece plays when she comes over.  No one in my family is allergic to bees, wasps or hornets.  If one or two yellow jackets decide to venture out to explore more of the yard,  they're really not a danger to anyone.  They are just a painful inconvenience for yours truly who stomps all over their territory with her bare feet. Yellow jackets sting when distrupted or when they are threatened. It is their mission to protect their queen to the death. All those yellow jackets that mercilessly stung me? DEAD.

Yellow Jackets are actually here to help us. They pollinate the plants and feed on other insects. Insects that eat our plants. The REAL pests! My little yellow jackets serve a great purpose. Perhaps there's a way I can work around them.

I've been told yellow jackets are pretty dormant in the evenings. I can certainly try to do all my gardening at dusk. I can take precautions by wearing pants, long-sleeved tops and shoes. And, I need to skip the spritz of perfume and refrain from covering my entire body with scented body cream until after my work outdoors is done. I can do that.  I will just leave them alone and in the fall, after they are gone, find the nest, dispose of it, and seal up the area if necessary.  Yellow jackets never use the same nest twice.

Here's how I look at it......

If not for those aggravating little yellow jackets, we would have no gardens at all.

And this is my Daily Cyn.......

No comments:

Post a Comment