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Beneficial insect hotel

 
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I was reading a post about bug hotel, and thought it was so cool!  I want to do that.  I'm a thinker more than a doer, so I started thinking about the where, and how, what materials I have ect.  I started to worry about rattlesnakes.  I have never seen one in the yard.  It's basically my only fear in my yard.  It's silly really because I have only seen one in the 35 years I have lived in California, and that was in the foothills in a remote area. Silly or not I make lots of noise when doing things like talking wood from the wood pile, or going through high grass, any place where I might not see a snake.  I just want to give it a chance to tell me it's there, so I can move to away without getting bit.  I just don't want to end up with a rattlesnake in my garden because I invited it there.  After taking to several family members I have decided odds are low.  But my son asked what about the wasps?  I didn't even think about that.  We have a bad wasp problem! In the summer we get wasp nests everywhere.  Is there anything I can do to not put the welcome mat out for the wasps, or even discourage them?  I will build it no matter what, but I was thinking it would be cool to incorporate it into my back veggie garden fence. If the wasps use it, I don't want it close to where I spent a lot of time.  I'm looking forward to any comments and, or info you have.  Thanks
 
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Hi Jen,

I like bugs and have raised them, they can be very easy and will eat things not suitable for humans and animals and thrive (I never did a hotel, it was more of an anarcho-syndicalist commune. Were they took turns acting as a sort of executive-officer-for-the-week, but all the decisions *of* that officer had to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting ;)... anyway... Bugs are easy to raise and are great food for poultry, fish, pigs, etc. (which coincidentally is a great way to control bugs). Also... Ants can’t resist a mound of dirt or wood chips, they will move right into it... (put a mound in any area you have problem ants). Once they move in, bring your chickens (or whatever birds you are raising) to the mound and get them started by taking a few shovels out of it to expose the ants (should be a ton of juicy white larvae as well). Free bird feed/free pest control, lifecycle interrupted. Chickens are really good at digging them all out.

Rattlesnakes don’t bother me at all, they are far more frightened of you than you are of them. It’s good to be cautious when the weather warms and in the evenings when the air is cool but the rocks or the road/pavement  are still warm (that’s when it’s really easy to accidentally step on them and get bit). If you have problems with them, just get a couple king snakes and let them go. King snakes eat rattlesnakes (and all other critters that snakes love to eat). Snakes are good to have around as they keep many pests from becoming a problem.

Wasps are really easy to control, just attract some birds. I watched a blue jay work his way around my house, methodically grabbing paper wasp nests from the eaves and tearing them open to eat the wasp larvae inside. It took that one blue jay about 30 minutes to get rid of all my wasp nests. If the only open water around your house is a bird bath, the wasps will be long gone before summer.

Good Luck!
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Thanks Paul, we don't have a lot of water out, and have lots of birds including bluejays, but end up with wasps all over the place.
 
Paul Eusey
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Jen Fulkerson wrote:Thanks Paul, we don't have a lot of water out, and have lots of birds including bluejays, but end up with wasps all over the place.



Excellent... You have all the tools you need to solve the problem. You have the birds and an abundant food source for them (which they are ignoring in favor of a different (or preferred) food source). Now all you have to do is figure out how to motivate them to work in your favor and prefer the wasps.

Observe the birds to see what they are eating and go from there (block that food source, cheap bird netting, a change in watering, adding or removing a bird feeder, etc). If you block access to whatever the birds prefer over the abundant wasps and wasp larvae, they will eat what IS available (wasps). Adding nesting sites is good as well, birds with chicks need a lot of food and can pick an area clean.

It’s just a puzzle for you to figure out. Good farmers let livestock (and nature) do a lot of their work, just by doing what they naturally do. All it takes are little nudges in the preferred direction, some of that is simply timing.

If you figure out the right little nudge, your wasps disappear (which might cause something else to appear) So, you might want to figure out what all those wasps are eating and see if you can eliminate that or if all those wasps are doing you a favor. Your wasps could just be an indicator of a different problem.

Both wasps and birds need access to water, they will die without it. Control that water, especially during the hot months, and wildlife will relocate to a better location that meets their needs. Certain aspects of nature are very easy to manipulate, but overall, nature is the most powerful force that will ever exist on our planet, and it is impossible to control and will be here long after we are all gone. Little nudges are worth the effort, everything else is just a waste of time and energy.

Good Luck!
 
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Wasps are beneficial insects. https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-01_paper_wasp.htm
 
Jen Fulkerson
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Thanks J. That was interesting, and I didn't know wasps were so beneficial. I may be allergic to bee's ( I had a reaction to a bee sting when I was a kid. They told my mom to get me to the hospital if I got stung. They also told her I may grow out of it.  I haven't been stung since. So who knows)  I have always been very careful around them.  If it is a strong possibility wasps will nest in my insect hotel, I don't think I will incorporate it in the garden fence.  It will still be close, but enough space I don't irritate them when I work in my garden.  Thanks for the info.
 
J Nuss
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If you’re worried about being allergic for real, you should carry an epipen regardless... but I can tell you that when I was a kid my first hornet sting on my face was like getting wacked by a 2x4 and a seriously painful and swelling event.  Since then I’ve been stung dozens of times by bees of all varieties, and while I mostly deserved it, I can honestly say that wasps are the least likely of any stinging insects to sting you.  The only time I was stung by a wasp was when one was under my shirt while I was sleeping.

Wasps may look spooky, but they are more scared of you than you are of them, like most critters!  I have a planting of mints that I love to observe in flower, because many varieties of wasps i had never seen before come to visit!
 
J Nuss
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For many years I had a job as property manager and had to remove wasp nests - I always just felt bad.  Those paper wasps are the most “visible” to humans, but also the most docile and least likely to sting you.  I don’t know of any cases of a paper wasp sting.  I certainly never was.  They just looked at me like ... “really? Cmon, man!”
 
Jen Fulkerson
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I grew up in Washington state, I moved to California when I turned 18. We would water ski every weekend, quite a distance from a hospital. My husband ( boyfriend at the time) took me to his family Doctor, who told me he couldn't give me an Epipen unless I had a reaction to a sting.  Since I was unwilling to get stung to find out I didn't get one.  I never tried again.
I have flower gardens, veggie gardens, and lots of fruit and nut trees. Even though bees are in trouble you can't tell by observing my yard. Even today I was amazed how many bees were in the walnut tree. Part of the reason I haven't been stung is luck, but mostly I think I'm just carful. I don't overreact when a bee or wasp come around.  They have to much to do to bother with me.  The few times one landed on me I staid still, and hope my luck hasn't run out. So far that has worked for me.  The only time I really worried about getting stung were the times I was with someone who stars swatting and going crazy.  
When I accidentally come upon a wasp nest it does give my heart a start.  Most of the time it is in a place where I just leave alone. It hasn't always been the case, but now a days I try to let nature be.  The other day I noticed aphids on my apple tree.  I also noticed lady bugs.  I will keep my eye on it, to make sure they get the job done.  It's so cool that since I stopped using chemicals, stopped jumping in the solve all the"problems" how almost always nature will take care of it. All I have to do is be patient. I have Neem oil and BT. By the time I get them I could see nature was taking care of it. They are both a couple years old and never been opened.
I look forward to building my insect hotel. I will put it kind of close to my veggie garden, but I don't think I will incorporate it into the fence. That way they will be close enough to benefit all of us, but enough space I'm not putting myself in danger.  Thanks for all the great info
 
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J Nuss wrote:If you’re worried about being allergic for real, you should carry an epipen regardless... but I can tell you that when I was a kid my first hornet sting on my face was like getting wacked by a 2x4 and a seriously painful and swelling event.  Since then I’ve been stung dozens of times by bees of all varieties, and while I mostly deserved it, I can honestly say that wasps are the least likely of any stinging insects to sting you.  The only time I was stung by a wasp was when one was under my shirt while I was sleeping.

Wasps may look spooky, but they are more scared of you than you are of them, like most critters!  I have a planting of mints that I love to observe in flower, because many varieties of wasps i had never seen before come to visit!



For the record, hornets are wasps.

I'm not sure where you live or what kind you have, but the wasps here are extremely aggressive, much, much more so than bees.  I've never had a bee sting unless I did something to deserve it.  Wasps on the other hand, are super territorial, at least here, and will go out of their way to sting you, even if you just pass by, and it doesn't have to be all that closely.

Sorry I don't know the answer to whether an insect hotel would bring them.  I tend to think not, but I've never built a really large one.
 
J Nuss
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Well I was definitely discluding hornets / yellow jackets in my description of wasps, likely incorrectly.  Not all wasps are the same I guess is all I meant.  Paper wasps are harmless, most other wasps besides hornets are solitary creatures.  Ground nesting yellow jackets are mean though for sure, and are the cause of most of my stings.  They won’t be visiting any bug hotel though, unless it’s to eat the denizens
 
Trace Oswald
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J Nuss wrote:Ground nesting yellow jackets are mean though for sure, and are the cause of most of my stings.  



Same here.  They are by far the worst of the ones we have.
 
Jen Fulkerson
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I can tell the difference between a bee and a wasp. Besides that  I'm clueless. I wouldn't know a hornet from a paper wasp to save my life. So I'm carful with them all.  
 
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