April Showers Bring May Bugs
Posted on April 05 2023
Meet the Bugs.
Seemingly useless cousins to the beloved Honey and Bumble Bees, these are also contributing members of Mother Earth. Bees, Hornets, and Wasps are hardworking survivalists that help pollinate, demolish and more or less keep life on earth in rotation, from seed to flower to fruit and back again into dirt.
Oh…and they sting!
This is a cautionary tale about prevention.
If you want fewer yellow jackets, wasps and hornets in your yard, then spring is the time to take your stand.
Spring is when these bugs set up their homes in your eaves, lawn furniture, under picnic tables, inside the BBQ, inside the shed, near porch lights, under deck railings, pool decks, and other semi-sheltered outdoor locations.
It’s like they know you are going to be cooking some delicious food and serving it up JUST FOR THEIR ENJOYMENT! Who wouldn’t want to live at Ground Zero for a party?
You may even have a nest, or two, in your lawn waiting for your unknowing step —
Q: So, what do you do if you don’t want to cover your property in harmful chemicals?
A: You discourage new settlements as you find them, and you research less harmful ways to treat them. Many pest companies offer low toxicity approaches to insects, because as it turns out, you don’t really need to Nuke Bugs, you just need to discourage them.
I’m a hardcore DIYer, so my approach may not work for you,
But here are a couple ways I discourage yellow jackets, paper wasps, mud wasps and other pesky stingers.
CAUTION: DEFINITELY DO NOT ATTEMPT ANY OF THESE, IF YOU ARE DEATHLY ALLERGIC WHEN STUNG, OR HATE BEING STUNG.
• BBQ spatula with as long a handle as you can find.
• Hose with high pressure spray end (I like the fireman’s style twist nozzle)
• Bug Away Spray
• Tree trimming pole- or 10-15’ long stick.
During the day, watch for wasp activity around your home.
You may see yellow jackets zooming under your patio chairs, or clustering under a railing or stair. You may see paper wasp nests in the tree or high bush. You may see blobs of mud nest to your porch light. Make a list of all the places you see activity. This next month is the perfect time to start, but this is also applies to activity all summer and fall.
You may see hornets clustering in a section of yard. I have limits, so I have never attempted taking care of these myself. But, I have put a milk crate over the area and avoided mowing it all year.
I know, I should claim my turf, but it seemed safer to share. If I had one near the house, I would call a pest company.
In the early morning or late evening, yellow jackets and wasps are drowsy.
This when I act. I remove one nest per day, because this is a literal stirring up a hornet’s nest.
If it’s a small nest, I use the metal BBQ spatula. I quickly scrape the nest off the surface. I give ONE scrape. and before it falls to the ground, I run 10-20 feet away.
What I have found, is that when I dislodge their nest from the wall, railing, or underside of a chair, the yellow jackets don’t see the nest on the ground. They fly back to where it used to be, looking for it. They look confused, and soon fly away to rebuild.
Spray the spot with Bug Away.
Usually they rebuild elsewhere, but if they come back, I scrape their nest off again.
If the nest is larger than a golf ball, or out of arm’s reach, like on a wall or eave, then I use the water hose with a high pressure nozzle. The water gives you a safer distance, but it’s also easy to trip on the hose, if you panic that the wasps are coming for you.
But often they don’t come for me. They keep their eyes on the nest or more accurately, where the nest used to be.
I practiced on the little Yellow Jacket nests, tiny paper wasp nests and the mud wasp blobs with the spatula. I gained confidence.
I had one mishap early on because I forgot to put my dog in the house.
I scraped and ran. As I ran, so did my dog…right into me. I fell backwards, putting out my hand to soften the blow and broke my arm. it was Memorial Day and it did put a crimp in my summer.
In time I healed, and now, I always put my dog away before removing nests.
One year, we had a largish paper wasp nest in a tree near our deck. I was impressed, but the wasps were not respecting my space, even after I asked them to respect it. One day, at dawn, I used the tree trimming pole to dislodge the nest, threw the pole, and ran.
The nest fell. Wasps started zooming out. Of course, they were angry as hornets. I was out of range as I watched them swarming the branch. Wasps zoomed out of the nest as it lay on the ground and headed up into the tree. It was pretty active all day, but then they flew away. They rebuilt elsewhere.
This is the time of year, I watch for activity, and discourage, early and often.
I am not encouraging you to DIY. This is my personal solution for discouraging bugs without chemicals.
I have stacking Adirondack chairs that Yellow Jackets love to build nests on. This year, I am going to spray Bug Away on the backs and bottoms of the chairs and see whaat happens. i will report back with my findings.
Shake well! Spray often!
Use Bug Away Spray on your skin, clothing, back packs, shoes, dog, picnic table, screens, netting, blanket and more to create a force field of scent that bugs don’t like.
Bug Away has a light pleasing non-bug-spray-ey scent. You already know some of the essential oils in the blend:
Citronella. Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Juniper Berry, Lavender, Lemon & Tea Tree
Bug Away reduces your need for chemicals. It’s important to understand that Bug Away is not a replacement for DEET and Picarin. There are times when you may want to use tested chemical bug repellents.
What I have found, living and raising my family in the outdoors, is Bug Away takes care of a lot of the nuisance that bugs bring.