A Stinging Sensation

As we visit your homes on maintenance calls or yard services and the like, we have noticed a pretty significant increase in the numbers of wasps and hornets. While most of us can weather a sting or three, allergies to the venom that a sting imparts can be serious. Take note if you are walking around on your deck and see some wasps flying out of somewhere. If you see those little round, cone shaped paper nests, that is the Bald Faced hornet. They hit like bullets and the nests can reach the size of a basketball by the end of summer. They are not to be toyed with.

You can always call us with a request for nest eradication. If you decide to tackle it yourself, it is best to spray the nest at dusk to catch all of the critters on the nest. If spraying a large bald faced hornet nest, you want to wait for dusk, if possible, and approach the nest and start by spraying the opening on the bottom of the nest and keep spraying there until hornets stop emerging. What this accomplishes is to block the opening with the bodies of the hornets so that the hordes contained within are trapped. You should then douse the entire exterior of the nest with the spray. For very large nests we routinely use an entire can of spray.

We do get asked,”Which spray should I use?” We use the industrial Spectracide brand in a white can available at Home Depot or other hardware stores. When spraying a nest in or attached to a light fixture or any other electrical appliance, make sure the can has a dielectric rating on it. This ensures that the voltage will not travel down the stream to the metal can in your hand. NOT a good thing.

Ground hornets are another pest that plagues our work crews. When you run over one of the entry points to their nests with a lawnmower, they issue forth like a horde of Hottentots making you do the slap-yoself-silly dance. Sure, it can elicit a chuckle or two but they can be quite aggressive, following you for a fair distance. With these denizens of the underground, spraying into the opening at dusk and saturating the hole provides an adequate kill rate and discourages the hornets returning to the nest from entering. Sometimes, they also have an alternate entry point so get that one too. Some like to just pour gasoline into the hole but gasoline is flammable and not very friendly to the environment. Did you know that a single gallon of gasoline has the potential to render one million gallons of water undrinkable? The spray is probably not that great for the environment either but less is usually used than pouring gas from a can. This would be a “lesser of two evils” scenario.

Please keep in mind that honey bees are the only wasp/bee that loses its barbed stinger when it stings you. All the others have smooth stingers and can sting you again and again. And they will. Also, if you wait too late to go after the nest, like after dark, I can assure you from experience that hornets on the nest will fly straight towards the light! Something to be aware of.

As a footnote, I will remind you that wasps and bees are extremely valuable to us all. Paper wasps love to eat caterpillars of all types. You know, the ones that eat up your tasty veggies in the garden. Bald faced hornets will patrol the eaves of your house looking for spiders to eat but one of their favorites is flies. They are always around the cows in my pasture, patrolling around them like battleship cruisers, snatching flies out of the air and off the cows themselves. If the nest is out of the way and not bothering you, consider leaving it alone while remembering where it is.