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Old October 7, 2019   #1
kilroyscarnival
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Default Wasps

Yesterday, I tackled a long-overdue project at my boyfriend's (and now my) home: some work on a bird-of-paradise plant at the back edge of the property that is over 20 feet tall, and had many dead limbs/fronds on it. I assume it was planted out by the original owner, and it's been sadly neglected. Unfortunately I discovered that a large amount of wasps apparently have a nest somewhere on or very near the right side of the plant. I got stung about six times around the ankles and lower legs; later yesterday when picking up the detritus for collection I got stung in the hand. Thankfully, it's fine today, but we really need to keep working on that plant.

I realize wasps aren't bees, but understand they do have their place in the ecosystem and in the garden, so I don't think I want to spray and kill them all -- but any ideas on how to get them to move out of the way so we can finish working on that plant? (Also, I know, I need to work much more covered-up than I was initially. Finished up wearing long pants, thick socks, long sleeves, a hat and I even considered wearing a scarf as a veil over my face. Turns out the one guy could also sting me through a rather thin garden glove.)

I thought about hosing the area with a strong water spray from a distance before we get in there and set up a ladder to start working on the top area. Or should I just suck it up and make sure I'm well covered?

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Old October 7, 2019   #2
Nematode
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Racoon can eat a whole wasp nest in one night. Happened here this summer.
How hungry do you have to be to do that?
Now where to get a raccoon???
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Old October 7, 2019   #3
matereater
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Not an expert here but I think spraying with the hose is just going to aggravate them. The only way to prevent further stings is to use a spray to eliminate them
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Old October 7, 2019   #4
kilroyscarnival
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nematode View Post
Racoon can eat a whole wasp nest in one night. Happened here this summer.
How hungry do you have to be to do that?
Now where to get a raccoon???
Oh, wow. Surprisingly, I haven't seen any raccoons on the property.
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Old October 7, 2019   #5
brownrexx
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I wonder if you have found a nest of yellow jackets? They are a type of wasp and live in the ground. The fact that you were stung around the ankles and legs tells me that they may have come from a hole in the ground. They capture lots of insects to feed to their young so they are good bugs but are aggressive and very territorial.

Our yellow jackets in PA are very cranky and aggressive this time of year because they die in the cold and just the queen overwinters but I guess that does not happen in Florida.

I would suggest standing quietly near the area where you were stung and watching to see if you see wasps flying towards one particular area. This should show you where the nest is.
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Old October 7, 2019   #6
kilroyscarnival
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brownrexx View Post
I wonder if you have found a nest of yellow jackets? They are a type of wasp and live in the ground.
Ah, I grew up in Pennsylvania (near the Poconos) and remember yellow jackets. These didn't seem to have visible yellow on them; they were just a brown-black color. I think maybe they were low to the ground in order to be under the fronds of the bird-of-paradise plant, but imagine their nest is somewhere in there.

Good point about watching them carefully from a little distance. Yes, we only have a few frost-warning nights in Jan and Feb, and I can't remember the last time we had a real freeze this far down in Central Florida.

Incidentally, I searched and came up with a long-winded YouTube video in which a guy uses a fairly concentrated Dawn dish soap (or other degreasing type of soap) and water solution sprayed with a garden sprayer to kill wasps without using commercial sprays. If I do opt for killing them I'll try that (while being carefully swaddled up.)
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Old October 7, 2019   #7
bower
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I hate being stung... we're lucky that it gets cold enough to pick your timing. Can you get a picture of them? If we can identify the type of wasp, there's bound to be information online about their most and least active times. In general any insect will be more active the hotter it is, so the cooler time of day and/or when there's no direct sun in the area, would definitely be the best bet. Maybe dusk? Or early morning, when they've been cooling all night. That would not apply if they're nocturnal, of course!
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Old October 7, 2019   #8
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Wear red clothes when working outside if u can. Bees and wasps/hornets can't see red. They love white or yellow!. Also grow mint or any kind of mint in your garden or border around the house. They repel all kinds of wasps and also mice. Wasp do not like the smell of cucumbers either. Remember a wasp can only sting once. They leave the sting inside you. Bees can keep stinging repeatedly. Don't wear a lot of cologne, perfume or aftershave. They LOVE it and think you are a flower to pollinate. Always work early mornings as bees and wasp don't move to much until mid afternoon when the heat and humidity is higher. Also baby powder is another smell wasps do not like. They are repelled by the talc in the powder. They are SO beneficial in the garden and try not to kill them if possible. I know sometimes it can't be helped.
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Old October 7, 2019   #9
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Garden boy has the stinging thing backwards- a bee can usually only sting once and dies for it, a wasp can usually sting you multiple times.



I agree, it seems to be a ground nester, so look downwards and try to find the opening (s). Try looking and working on a cooler day, too. Check with your local county agent for information, they often are great resources and often have many free services..
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Old October 7, 2019   #10
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Bees hate dark clothing, because it makes you resemble a bear, the natural predator to their honey supply. That's why beekeeper suits are white. I'm not sure if that applies to wasps, though.
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Old October 7, 2019   #11
brownrexx
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And wasps will definitely sting multiple times but honeybees can only sting once and then they die.
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Old October 7, 2019   #12
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In my sleepiness I accidentally sprayed a red wasp in my bathroom with ether not wasp spray.
So now the bathroom is fogged out with ether not wasp spray and I'm in it.
I had to hold my breath and get out fast and not make any sparks.
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Old October 8, 2019   #13
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We successfully got rid of a large yellow jacket (hornet) nest in a loose, untended compost pile in the community garden plot next to ours. Spraying poisons of any kind in the garden is prohibited, but I'm allergic to yellow jacket stings and they weren't allowing us to garden in peace in our own plot. We found that a 5-gallon bucket filled with water and an entire bottle of Dawn dishwashing detergent, dumped in the main hole when they're in the nest and least active (a cool night), is a good first start. Repeat daily as needed until you don't see any more and then flood out the rest of the nest with a hose. Dawn is so effective at defatting things that it defats the larvae and prevents them from becoming adults.



Getting rid of them took awhile because the loose brush in the compost pile prevented us from seeing where the hole was. (My husband zip-tied a manure fork to the long handle from a roof rake so we could rake off the covering brush while staying out of range.) We also discovered that adding a couple tablespoons of Dawn to a 1-quart spray bottle and using it on hornets flying around will drop them out of the air. This doesn't work as well on wasps, but we generally leave wasps alone anyway since they're helpful and don't have such a bad attitude, like yellow jackets do.
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Old October 8, 2019   #14
kilroyscarnival
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Thanks to all for the advice and info. It'll be a while, probably, until I can get a picture. I leave the house before the sun is fully up and a couple of days per week I'm not home until it's dark now that the days are getting shorter. Meanwhile, I itch, but a little less.
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Old October 8, 2019   #15
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Yellow Jacket "wasp" (meat bee) is the only beneficial that I hate.


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