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wasps/yellowjackets

 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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So with a garden and inviting ecosystems comes things like wasps and yellowjackets, which I am allergic to. Does anyone know of a healthy way to keep these guys from being a problem? Right now they look like they are looking for nests on our house since we don’t have any plant life yet. I am worried that this will only increase once we get more plants. Any advice? Thanks very much.

 
Jami McBride
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Hum.... I would say that if they are nesting in areas that are a problem for you and/or growing in numbers that pose a problem, you can then hang wasps traps and use the dead ones as chicken/duck feed. 

I do not have a problem with them now that my kids are teenagers.  Their swing set is long gone, a favorite nesting site each spring.  Their swimming pool too....

But when we had them causing issues for us humans I fought back and didn't feel un-permie about it

Good luck
 
Irene Kightley
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If it's a life or death situation - as in Anaphylaxis then you either have to get yourself desensitized or take precautions but learn to live with the threat of a sting. Find out about from your doctor about getting an Epipen - an injectable adrenalin - to keep your heart going if you do get stung.

I had my first attack last year - a really frightening experience which I've described in my blog along with some information about what to do about severe allergies and preventing stings. There's also plans for making wasp traps.

http://lafermedesourrou.blogspot.com/search?q=wasp

Although we don't like doing it, we destroy nests near the house and like Jami, we use wasp traps but I love gardening and being outside and I think that if you like to have a lovely environment - including a multitude of insects - then it's worth the risk to just let them be.
 
Dave Miller
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I assume if you are allergic, you have an epipen.

In my experience, paper wasps are pretty harmless (and they are good pollinators).  They have only stung me when I was destroying their nest.  I once knocked a nest down my shirt neck, and I only got two stings.

Yellowjackets are another matter.  I was pulling weeds once and came across their nest, and got about 20 stings.

Paper wasps seem to make nests under eaves, and inside tubes or wide crevices.  I'd say if you think you might disturb their nest (e.g it is in a doorway), knock it down when the temperature is relatively cool (they will be sluggish).  Otherwise don't bother them and they won't bother you.

For yellowjackets, I think they are mostly looking for meat/insects in mid summer and rotting fruit/sugar in late summer.    Be sure you don't leave those things laying around outside.  e.g. make sure your garbage is tightly closed, compost is well-mixed, pick up fallen fruit, etc..

You can put up traps but I think it is more effective to remove their food sources, which are mainly garbage and discarded fruit.
 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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Thanks for the good info everyone. I think the hardest part is identifying which ones are a threat and when as I don’t care to get close enough to observe ! With little kids that is hard too, but I didn’t want to just get the spray out, but if I don’t do something about them my wife will get the spray so I thought I would try a nice way first. Ill try the traps and observation per your suggestions. BTW Irene, where can I find that trap info you spoke about? Cheers!

 
Irene Kightley
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Here are two links to different types of trap.

http://www.planetepassion.eu/WILDLIFE-IN-FRANCE/Asian-Hornet_Vespa-velutina-nigrithorax_Frelon%20asiatique_France.html

http://www.eartheasy.com/live_natwasp_control.htm

Good luck with the traps blitz,

Irene
 
Brenda Groth
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well i also agree with adunca...

we have paper or mud wasps and they aren't very harmful..and i even allow the bald face hornets to nest peacefully

but when it comes to yellow jackets..they are on our "most wanted" hit list when we see them..they are dead

they will chase you down and they will kill you if they can..and i'm not kidding.

i have been chased over 500 feet and was throwing clothing the entire way.

so yeah..identify and destroy the ones that are dangerous..and know what you are really allergic to.

 
                          
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Location: Portland Oregon
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I've been dealing with wasps in my job for 30 years......and I too have run like h#$% upon occasion. 
One thing I have learned is to not wear cologne or after shave, but then nobody on this forum wears such unnatural stuff...right?
Also, if you ever feel a wasp bounce off your face without stinging you, it is just warning you that you are close to it's nest and it's time get away. And yes, it's the weirdest thing to get head butted by a wasp.
 
Brenda Groth
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yeah that is pretty cool that they'll often warn you first..

ever see a bald face hornet zoom in and get insects off of your pets..too cool
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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Water Traps. Water traps are generally homemade and consist of a 5-gallon bucket, string, and protein bait (turkey ham, fish, or liver works well; do not use cat food because it may repel the yellowjackets after a few days). The bucket is filled with soapy water and the protein bait is suspended 1 to 2 inches above the water. (The use of a wide mesh screen over the bucket will help prevent other animals from reaching and consuming the bait.) After the yellowjacket removes the protein, it flies down and becomes trapped in the water and drowns. Like the lure trap, these traps also work best as queen traps in late winter to early spring. In summer and fall they may assist in reducing localized foraging workers but usually not to acceptable levels. Place them away from patio or picnic areas so wasps aren't attracted to your food as well.


http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7450.html

Try spam as bait
 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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So I have been trying to stay calm around them long enough to observe(I should start a TV show called the wasp whisperer!), and they seem to be all dark even black through out. So they are just regular wasps not yellowjackets. There is only a few of them too. I just dont know if its a type of hornet or one of the certain types of darker wasps. Thanks all for the good info.
 
                          
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Location: Portland Oregon
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One last question, these flying critters, they are all black?  Do the legs hang down like a plane with the landing gear down? you are in Pennsylvania right?

What do you think forumites? I'm not real familiar with these guys, mud daubers?
I know I ran a lawn mower over a ground nest once in Virginia, those guys were black but I dont remember if their legs hung down.  They were so upset they ran me straight into the kitchen. Dont blame them really.
 
                      
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Location: Southern New Hampshire
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Well, I, too am allergic to bee stings and wasp stings.  I tend to go in panic mode when they come too near me.  I have a bedroom at my daughter's house nearby (stay to watch the grandaughter sometimes).  Last May, I went in my room and saw 2 big black wasps with the drooping legs hovering in the room.  I had to have my son-in-law kill them for me.  Then went outside and saw that they were making a nest in the shutter by the window.  Tons of them going in and out.  I have to confess that I went to the hardware store and bought a wasp spray and sprayed the #X&! out of them.  They were coming in thru a small hole in the screen.  I didn't open that particular window for quite some time.  Hope I don't have to resort to that tactic this year again - will take early precautions.  Thanks for the advice on wasp traps.
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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Any of these?

 
Wyatt Smith
Posts: 111
Location: Midwest zone 6
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Traps work.  They go into a cone, and will not come out.  Something visual must be working on their instincts.  They will go into a cone but they will not go out, even when they are standing on the edge and it would be very easy.

Water does not hurt bees and wasps.  They have evolved to survive if it starts raining while they are in flight.  I think the water trap is really collecting bees who starve to death, not drowned ones.
 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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Water does not hurt bees and wasps.  They have evolved to survive if it starts raining while they are in flight.  I think the water trap is really collecting bees who starve to death, not drowned ones


It works for yellow jackets.    We have done it.    It's greed that gets them, they eat so much they are too heavy to fly out of the bucket and drown.
 
Irene Kightley
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I wondered why they worked - thanks Mangudai !

Hank, what you're describing sounds more like a stag beetle. (Lucanus cervus) They make a real fighter bomber sound.





 
                      
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Location: Southern New Hampshire
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The ones we had must have been the mud daub. 
 
Rob Sigg
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Location: PA-Zone 6
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Yes Hank I am in PA, and based on those pictures the body looks like the paper wasp but the color is black/dark color. TBH I can't get close enough to see how their legs hang, my eyesight is so bad, im lucky to see the basic shape!
 
paul wheaton
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Christy Nieto tells us about the caterpillars (currant worm) attacking her gooseberries and currants. She used to pick the caterpillars off by hand until that fine day when some paper wasps moved into the neighborhood and took care of her problem for her.

This is a great permaculture solution: work with nature instead of against nature. The predators will come.




 
Xisca Nicolas
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Ho, the nest does not look like the one of what I thought to be paper wasp's!
Can you tell the Latin name please?

Polistes dominula http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polistes_dominula
is also supposed not to be beneficent all the time in an orchard, as they also feed on ripe fruits.
 
Raven Sutherland
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on the flip side

after you have been stung a hundred times all over the face, eyes, mouth, and nose
with your head swelling up like a beach ball.... so funny everyone laughs at you
you lose interest in "playing nice" so just like poison IVY ....or fire ANTS ....it DIES
 
Tony Thomas
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Location: boise, idaho
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Ladybugs: This last week we spotted a caterpillar web nest on our Satsuma Plum tree. Well we don't spray and it was up to me to get out and remove that nest. A day pasted. Then another day. Three days later I finally get out to remove the nest and it is covered in ladybugs enjoying a caterpillar meal. Problem solved.
 
paul wheaton
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Raven Sutherland wrote:on the flip side

after you have been stung a hundred times all over the face, eyes, mouth, and nose
with your head swelling up like a beach ball.... so funny everyone laughs at you
you lose interest in "playing nice" so just like poison IVY ....or fire ANTS ....it DIES


Using my permaculture observation skills .... I observe that Christy is not getting stung, nor has she mentioned it. Therefore, something is different between these two scenarios that is well worth knowing.
 
Mary Saunders
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I had some that were black and white, with kind of a cross on their backs. They were gentle, never bothered me, and I loved watching them. They were only around one year. I would like it if they would come back.
 
Jay Angler
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I regularly see "yellow jackets" cleaning out the cabbage butterfly catepillars from all my cole crops which is fine by me. I am highly reactive to being stung and so take the middel road - if a nest is in a spot likely to cause a negative interaction (like either of our well sheds) I will destroy it, otherwise I just note the location and stay clear. I find they tend to be goofier if you are close to their nest as opposed to close to where they happen to be foraging and also tend to be a bit goofier in the fall as the cool weather is coming on, so a nest that might be ignored during the spring or summer, may need dealing with later. I go out in the dark and wrap a paper bag around a small nest and simply squish it under my foot - or better yet, get my spouse who doesn't react to the sting nearly as badly, to do the deed.
 
greg patrick
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Paper wasps are the heros of our garden. We've had a bunch of them for twenty years and my wife and I have been stung once each, both times when we accidentally grabbed them while they were working (it feels kind of like an M-80 going off strapped to your finger - blinding white hot pain). They have nests in my greenhouse and under the eves of my garage. They are totally non-aggressive to us, but keep the crawlies in the garden extremely well managed. Love those guys. We've found the trick is to pick fruit either early or late in the day when they aren't active. They love to work in the mid-day heat.

And for what it's worth, I've read several places that most people who are allergic to bee stings are usually not reactive to wasps.
 
Elisheba Meyer
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We have what they call "bald face hornets" who make beautiful paper nests. I wasn't thrilled with them until I realized how they attack the extra flies, and love to pollinate the squash flowers. Now I love them. However my 5 and 7 year old do have an issue with climbing trees and shaking them to see them come buzzing out. Last year they did this and had their little sister standing a bit too close. I do question their cause and effect reasoning at times. LOL
 
John Saltveit
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I had a very similar situation to Christy's. I had the little green worms devastating my jostaberry and currants. I wanted a permaculture solution. Many people I know have given up currants and gooseberries due to these caterpillars/worms. The whole bush would look like the end of the branch that Christy showed. I smashed the worms on the bush leaving them there. You have to get down and look under the leaves. They're hiding, they're small, and they're the same color as the leaves. They're often exactly on the edge of the leaf. Once I smash them, I leave the smashed bug there, so some other bug (paper wasps?) can come and get excited about eating them. The first year it took awhile, but it saved my berries, since then, I usually don't even have to do that. SOmetimes I will come out and just smash 10 or so. I was thinking that the smell of smashed bugs attracts them like pie attracts Paul.
JohN S
PDX OR
 
John Polk
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There are several hundred species called "paper wasps".
Some, but not all can be aggressive.

My guess is that the ones in Paul's post are Bald-faced hornets (Dolichovespula maculata).

The pictured nest looks very similar to Dolichovespula maculata's to me.
Whatever they are, it is working. That is Mother Nature's way, if we give her a chance.

Wikipedia image:
 
Steven Feil
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What are the wasps that are building nests in my electrical box, in my fake shutters, in unattended boxes and many other such places?
 
Victor Johanson
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Wasps are valuable allies. I learned to love them when I observed a hornet plucking mosquitoes out of the air and devouring them in rapid sequence. They usually leave me alone if I leave the alone, but they definitely don't leave their prey alone, so we welcome and encourage their presence.

Something has recently ended my perennial currant sawfly problem. Here they focused on black currants, and I almost never got fruit. Last year was the first year they failed to appear. Maybe it was a climatic thing that killed them back, or maybe some predator has stepped up to the plate. But that usually happens if one exercises patience and doesn't resort to immediate intervention. Most problems will balance out if we give them half a chance. It was good to finally start getting black currants.
 
Jeffrey Upton
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Location: Orange County, CA
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I have a nest just starting above the back door, so like I do every year, I have a frank talk with them, they all turn and look at me, then I tell them that if they stay cool, I will too, and then all is well, never had a problem no matter how close they are to the daily traffic. Bless them all....
 
Steven Feil
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Jeffrey Upton wrote:I have a frank talk with them, they all turn and look at me, then I tell them that if they stay cool, I will too,
Are you related to my wife? She is an insect whisperer too. If they don't listen she WHACKS them.
 
Hans Quistorff
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As mentioned there are different types of paper wasps. The kind that build in a sheltered spot like under the eaves of a roof and do not cover the brood chamber with an outer shell are very gentle. I ave 4 nests in my green house and they keep it clear of damaging insects and larva. I have been stung twice; once moving a nest to a new location so that I could complete a project. That sting was only because I put my finger on a new brood chamber that I was not aware of near the edge of the lid they were building under. The second was one quick bang on the forehead when I hammered on the loose piece of metle roofing that had a nes under it.
If I can get my pictures to upload to a project page from my phone I will start a project page and post pictures of them there.
 
Jeffrey Upton
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Location: Orange County, CA
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I think that communication is alway a good thing, and there is alway a way to do that, so they don't understand the word, they get the intention, so we reach an understanding, since they are 6 inches about my head when I go back and forth, they are pretty smart buggers....
 
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