12 June 2010

Pests

Wasps
Every year we have a wasp's nest somewhere on the property. Last year it was under my front step but it's also been under the compost bin (when we still had one), in a pile of wood, underground and in the shed. This year it returned to the shed.

As much as I love nature and all its creatures, I really don't like wasps. Maybe even a little afraid of them, actually. About two weeks ago I killed a gigantic wasp in my basement, probably a queen. I have no idea how she got in the house but man oh man she needed to be evicted immediately. She didn't die easily either. Oh no, she fought hard. But I was victorious with my wooden spoon squishing and crushing her. So I was a little surprised
at finding a nest hanging in my shed. Usually it's only one wasp's nest to deal with.

We waited until dark to remove the nest because I know wasps sleep at the same times we do. I was all ready to grab the nest with a bag, drop it to the ground and crush the nest under my feet. I had long sleeves on, pants and even gloves. I was ready. Then I got right up close to the nest and heard the gentle crackling of wasps settling into sleep. Then I realized that my body refused to obey my brain's command.

I kept telling myself that the worst that would happen is that I'd be stung. I've been stung before and I'm not allergic. It just hurts for a while. Well, a long while. But the idea of being able to feel moving wasps in a nest inside a bag made me want to eject my stomach contents. This is where I learned that I'm a really big talker and a tiny doer. My plan to remove the nest seemed really easy until action time.


Luckily, S was there and took over. After he put on long sleeves, winter gloves, a knit hat and a shirt covering his lower face and neck. Yes, he looked silly. Yes, I giggled at him. But he was braver than I was...eventually. He had the same paralyzing sense of freak out that I did. Once he did finally grab the nest he dropped it on the ground where he stamped on it repeatedly. When he got off I slammed a chunk of cement tile on it while he got two more bags. I took the smashed bag and put it into another bag, which I put in another bag. I tied the bag up and put it in the garbage bin.

This morning I checked the bag - no buzzing or suspicious holes - and the shed. The nest is indeed gone but two foragers were very confused. They kept going to where the nes
t used to be. They'll die off without their queen. Hey, you know how to deter wasps? Take a brown paper bag and fill it with air. Tie off the open end with a rubber band and hang it outside. It looks like a nest so more wasps won't come around. I may have to try that.

Ants
If you remember, I took some ant poison and poured it on three of the big colonies in my front yard. The poison effectively killed my grass...but the ants lived. They simply m
oved their entry and exit points over just a bit. I swear one of the colonies is even larger now. Plus I still have gigantic colonies down near my driveway in the back.

I was talking to my neighbor across the alley the other day and commented to him that he has the best lawn I've ever seen. Lush, thick, green grass with no discernible ant hills. He disagreed - there were two or three very large hills recently. He used this stuff called Ant Killer in a little green bottle. What he did was take a small circle of waxed paper and press it into the ground near the hill. This formed a little cup or cone. He then put some of this poison in the cone. The ants liked the
poison because it was sweet, and they fed it to the queen. The colonies (apparently) died.

I couldn't find Ant Killer, but I did find three similar brands at Home Depot. Today I d
ecided to start with the Raid. It says to put a few drops down near or on the colony and it would kill them. Well, I have very large colonies, so I put the cone down and filled it halfway as well as sprinkled the poison over the top of the hill. One colony got two cones because it's absolutely gigantic. I also found many, many single entry points for little hills. Each and every one of those got a drop or two.

The bottle says it takes about a week to work. I'm hoping for sooner. Now would be great. If the Raid doesn't work then I'll move on to the next one, or give them a cocktail of all three or something. Or try the hot water thing. I really don't want to boil pail upon pail upon pail of water to pour down the hills. There are just too many hills.

Maybe I should check the ant hills and see if the population has decreased. Maybe it's starting to work already. Maybe I could find some patience while I'm out there.

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