Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 26 July 2010

Wasp Woes

I said it was the Year of the Wasp last August, but this year seems to be going the same way if events up at my allotment are anything to go by. Whilst clearing some weeds at the top of the plot I was stung again: this time because I'd strayed too close to their nest which they've decided to set up in my manure heap. Apologies for the blurry picture - here they are flying into their nest entrance located under the flap of the black plastic I'm using to cover my heap.

Once again my woes didn't stop there as I reacted quite badly to the sting with my right hand swelling up like a balloon. I don't really want to repeat the experience again to see if I gradually become immune like my allotment neighbour says has happened to him because he's been stung so many times. I try not to use any chemicals on my garden or allotment wherever possible, but this time I've decided to make an exception. Besides, the nest is very close to the communal path and quite a few children wander along there when they're up the plot with their parents.

So off I set yesterday to get me some wasp killer. You'd think that would be an easy task, but it appears that Chippenham must be awash with them at the moment because all the shelves in the gardening section of the local DIY stores had a neat empty space where the wasp killer should be. I bumped into Mr Allotment Warden at Homebase, whose advice was to pour petrol down the hole, leave it overnight and then strike a match this morning. Knowing my luck I'd probably destroy myself rather than the wasps using that method, so I politely declined his advice and finally tracked down some killer at my local garden centre this morning.

The container says to dust the nest liberally in the evening when wasp activity is at its lowest and they're tucked up for the night, so I've just come back from the allotment having done the deed. Time will tell if I've been successful...

Do you have any pesky pests at the moment?

12 comments:

  1. True story: we had a wasp nest next door to us. My neighbour was all for calling pest control; I was up for using wasp killer and a big stick to bash the nest... then along comes other neighbour (other side) with - I kid you not - a flame thrower! Two minutes later we have one charcoaled wasp nest and a burning bush!

    What sort of person just happens to have a flame thrower handy?

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  2. Oh Dear - I am still chuckling at Mark's comment above!

    Hope your hand is OK now - and I was happy to hear that you found some wasp killer - we also had to resort to that tonight as wasps have made a nest in the stone just above our bedroom window.

    The garden is also FULL of them - I dont think I have seen so many as this year and goodness knows where they are all coming from.
    K
    xx

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  3. I haven't seen many wasps this year, but I think that may be about to change. My problem has been ants - my garden is full of them anyway, but this year they decided to invade the house. I've had to resort to Raid ant bait, which makes me feel very guilty. (BTW, if anyone else has this problem, the bait, rather than the spray, seems to work very well.)
    I loved Mark's story about the flame thrower. I must remember that, if I have a wasp invasion.
    Which would I rather have: no wasps or a charred garden? Hmm, that's a difficult one...

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  4. Having suffered the swollen hand too, I do sympathise about yours. I would hate having to reach the point where I didn't react to a wasp sting any more - think of the agony you would have to endure on that journey...

    But I couldn't willingly destroy a nest - they are such objects of beauty and precision; such a shame that the inhabitants fizz up so readily when we approach!

    Word ver. is repriza.....

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  5. Hope that the hand is recovering. No wasp problems so far this year but have visions of himself up a ladder a few years back, wearing his crash helmet and spraying powder on a wasp nests under the eaves. Glad that you did not go down the petrol route.

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  6. I don't think I have seen a wasp here yet - I tend to think of them as September pests. On Sunday we were at my sisters in Kent for lunch, eaten outside. They had quite a few wasps buzzing around & through the citronella candles. Now I am one for, as far as possible, letting wasps buzz around & hate anyone flapping at them. One of the party however spent the whole meal flapping, bashing, flinging & generally driving me mad! I think it was one of the angry wasps resulting from this that almost flew into my husband's mouth & stung him on the inside of his lower lip!

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  7. Mark - that's hilarious and very well received by my other commenters :)

    Karen - hand is fine now thanks. Looks like the killer's worked but the allotment's awash with wasps. Apparently one of the allotmenteers nearby also has a nest on his plot somewhere

    Victoria - I always have loads of ants so I think of them as part of the garden (and allotment) furniture!

    Rachel - this nest was just a hole in the ground so there was no beauty to destroy. Wasps get a bad press, but they do at least eat lots of aphids and caterpillars. However, I know my friend S the novice beekeeper thinks of them as bee enemy number one as they will destroy a hive if they get the chance. Having seen a wasp attack a bumble bee up at the plot yesterday I can see why he thinks that way.

    Anna - the most unusual nest location I can remember was when they set up home in the lampost outside my parents house in Brum. I seem to remember a lit cigarette stuck in the tiny entrance hole did the trick that time

    Ms B - wafting around is the worst thing you can do with wasps. You have to stay very still until they get bored and fly away

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  8. I'm a wasp wafter! They don't get bored and leave you alone if you sit still they will still sting you.

    Our garden is chocabloc with ants (nematodey stuff has been ordered) vapourer moth caterpillers (mostly picked off and squished) bush crickets (mostly picked off and crunched). Not as many snails and slugs this year though!

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  9. I don't blame you for resorting to chemicals in this case either, VP; hope your hand is doing better. I also think you were wise not to take the Allotment Warden's advice--I'm sure I would have set myself on fire attempting something like that, too:)

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  10. I can't believe the allotment manager recommended a firebomb! The powdered wasp killer seems a much better option. They haven't been as bad here this year because the scale on the Magnolia has been reduced with treatements, but I always have to watch out for little red ants whenever I dig or pull weeds. Then there are the stupid carpenter ants making a huge nest in the middle of a Heuchera.

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  11. Victoria - for ants getting into the house, I know a non-toxic solutuion. Try finding their entry point and then putting some baby power (ie. that you get from a chemist) around it. They hate walking on it and it can stop them from entering the house as long as you put it on all their entry points.

    I know this might sound weird, but I grew up in Melbourne and ants in the house is always a big problem in hot countries like Oz. This was a well-known and non-toxic way of keeping ants out of the house, and I'd say it worked 9 times out of ten.

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  12. Arabella - not many slugs and snails here either, I think the dry weather shrivelled them up!

    Rose - my hand's a lot better thanks :)

    MMD - I have real problems with ants up at the allotment as I react quite badly to their bite :(

    Julianne - thansk for the tip. One to keep in mind for next year :)

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