Tuesday, October 15, 2013

There are limits to my hospitality.

It's been a bad summer here for bugs.  Or rather, a good summer for bugs and a bad summer for those of us who aren't fond of them.  One morning I stepped out through the front door and found these wasps building a next right above my head.  No.  I'm sorry, but No. In general, I take a live and let live approach to bugs, but not when they place themselves where I am sure to get hurt.  I took the picture through the storm door and then told them, "Enjoy your day, guys. Because tonight while you're sleeping, I'm going to kill you all."
Just before dawn, I covered them in wasp spray.  I don't know why this one stayed attached, but he and his comrades were throughly dead.
And then one day I went out to work in the bed by the garage.  Kneeling in the periwinkle to weed, I suddenly noticed movement around the spirea bush a couple of feet from my face.
Well, holy hell.  A cleverly camouflaged hornet's nest.  Beach-ball sized and buzzing with many, many bald-faced hornets.  I called an exterminator to give me an estimate for removing it, because I had no interest in the helpful "use a flame-thrower" ideas people were giving me. We had the discussion about removing the nest standing right by it, which meant both of us had to keep ducking as hornets zoomed by our heads. He said the nest was a good three months old and and wondered how I'd missed it. All I can say is that I like the bumble bees and honey bees who hover around me when I garden, so a little extra buzzing just escaped my attention.  Besides, you can hardly see the damned thing.  I brought my neighbor over and he leaned in to look and then took a quick step back and said, "Whoa!"
The after.  I was so impressed that they were able to take care of it without destroying my spirea.  I don't know what sort of protective gear the guy wore, but before I called the exterminator, I looked up directions for DIY hornet nest removal. They strongly recommend protective clothing, including a bee keeper's helmet. Of course, a bee keeper's helmet! Part of any standard wardrobe. And so versatile, too! I mean, sure there's bee keeping and hornet nest removal, but also useful for hiking, sea kayaking, motorcycle rides, casual Fridays and evening wear. Who WOULDN'T have a bee keeper's helmet in their closet?
Scraps of the nest now litter the shrubs like confetti, and look to me like small renderings of the Painted Desert in Arizona.  Hornets are aggressive and will sting repeatedly when threatened so I could not leave them in my garden.  But I have to admire the artistry of their papery home.

32 comments:

  1. A wasps’ nest in the garden, away from the house, is fine with me; but in the house is a no-no. I have never seen hornets but I know they can be dangerous to humans.

    Give me bees and hover flies and all kinds of bumbles any day, they’re welcome and I’ll provide a bug hotel for all beneficial insects with pleasure.

    I had a beautiful wasps’ nest inside a bird box; after spraying it we could take it out intact. It was a work of art.

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    1. Bees of any sort are welcome here. I'm happy to have them and plant shrubs and flowers I know they like.

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  2. ah, we had one on the eaves....that appeared almost overnight it seems...sneaky buggers....and we get them in the ground as well....yikes...watch the feet....

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    1. This apparently had been there for a while and I just hadn't noticed. We get yellow jackets in the ground, too.

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  3. " Hornets are aggressive and will sting repeatedly when threatened so I could not leave them in my garden."

    You said it, girl! I used to get those hornets nets under the awning at my front door in Florida all the time. Like you said, I don't mind the bumble bees (because they're so gentle and cute), but wasps and hornets? No way!

    Awesome photos you captured here. That last one is STELLAR! And you're right, their papery home is a work of art!

    X

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    1. I don't go around looking for wasps and hornets to kill but when they choose to locate right near a door, that just can't work.

      And thanks - I absolutely loved the look of their paper.

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  4. What a nest with all those entrances.i had one before I figured it out and boy did I run. No interspecies cooperation there, just like the us congress :-)

    I have a nest I'll show you one of these days. Huge.

    Love
    kj

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    1. I went out with a guy once who had an enormous deserted hornet nest in his home as art.

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    2. Yup, that's exactly what my friends have done

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  5. I have to agree with you, these would be not on my list of things I would want to be hospitable to. I wonder if it is possible to rent a beekeeper's helmet?

    betty

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    1. Maybe, but I just didn't want to risk dealing with it at all. I'm not big on pain.

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  6. LOL this reminded me of the wasps that built a nest in a bird box in our garden. It was like a military operation for MWM and I - he at the ready with a piece of wood and a hammer to cover up the entrance as soon as I had squirted wasp killer in to the thing. It was like a cartoon! The buzzing that went on in that bird box afterwards was horrendous I can tell you! I don't understand what point wasps and hornets have on earth do you?

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    1. We had a yellow jacket nest in the ground back when I was married. We put gasoline in it after dark and then threw lit matches at it until a flameball went up.

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  7. Whoa! Those suckers are enormous! We seem to get more yellow jackets that build their nests underground. Then you cut the grass and all hell breaks loose!

    Glad you safely exterminated!

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    1. These are the first hornets I've seen in my yard, but I get yellow jackets every year.

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  8. Wow, you've got yourself quite the community over here. Well, you did. I appreciate the art in their creations too, but yikes!

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    1. If it had been at the back of the yard, 'd have left them. But this was right by the garage door.

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  9. Glad you managed to get rid of the nests without being stung. We don't have such a problem with bugs here, but I did find a huge wasps' nest in the boiler house one year. Bees are more than welcome as bees are mysteriously dying en masse in some parts of the UK.

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    1. Honey bees are dying off everywhere. Its' a real problem.

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  10. Things are different over here in the UK. Hornets are a very threatened species and in fact wasps are beginning to be so too. People do not realise that they can do good for us as well as harm: they eat all those bugs which would otherwise be in our raspberries etc. My mother had a nest in her house under the floor accessed through a hole in the wall outside so there was no danger to us! At night in summer I could hear the wasps as they air-conditioned their nest, they all beat their wings like a Mexican Wave to expel over heated air and bring in cooler. It was actually very soothing and rhythmical as I lay in bed listening to them:)

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    1. They are definitely not endangered here. If these guys had't been right by a door in a place where I have to work, I wouldn't have had the nest remove. But there are three little kids next door who run in that part of my driveway all the time. They had to go.

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  11. I got the heebie jeebies just looking at the pictures. Glad you were able to safely eliminate the problems...and you didn't even have to drag that bee keeper's helmet out of storage ;-)

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    1. It kind of had me wishing I did have a bee keeper's helmet. I have a fencing mask and a motorcycle helmet - maybe I could have used one of those?

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  12. Not much into killing but when pushed by these kinds of stingers will do so. I have large flying ants that drive me crazy with their noise so I do spray them.

    Your collection gives me the shivers.

    XO
    WWW

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  13. I'm all for live and let live with bugs....... but when it comes to wasps and hornets they have to go, don't they?
    Was intrigued........
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

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    1. Thanks. I've had too many stings to just coexist.

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  14. Never had the problem, but I'd choose the nuc option, whatever that is. If a bee gets in the truck I abandon all control until the bee is gone, can't help it.

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    1. If it's a bee, I can manage, but if driving, I'd still robably pull over nad get it out.

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  15. do you still have your fencing gear? i bet the face shield would have worked. nonetheless, i think you were right to get a professional.

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