Glorious spring is here. Along with creatures who inspire fear and loathing disproportionate to their size. Despite those stingers. Unwelcome wasps, hornets, dirt daubers, bees and the like. We’ve learned from the bees. We don’t get to kill hoards of them (hereafter: pests!). They do rid defenseless plants of bugs. Instead, arm yourself with some tips and non-chemical repellents.
Get rid of any old, deserted nests. Pests won’t reuse. But, the nest’s scent serves as a signal beacon for the pest to return. It also deters other fellow travelers from squatting in the vacant homestead. Once rid of the nests, treat the area with a deterrent. Do the same for dirt daubers and hornets.
DO THIS BEFORE THE WEATHER TURNS WARM AND PESTS COME TO RECLAIM THEM. GET PROFESSIONAL ADVICE ON THE BEES. From personal experience, I know that dirt dauber nests can be destroyed in season. Stand several feet away with hose nozzle on full blast and eradicate.
Avoid planting nectar and sweet sap producing vegetation close to the house. Or, near places you plan to spend time. That especially includes fruit trees. This might entail relocating some plants. The lengths you employ depend on your fear and past infestation levels. Also, avoid keeping trash bags near the house unless in a sealed trash can. Avoid sweet perfumes if you sit outside. Also, use a natural repellent spray. These are available almost everywhere. Also, check out the next segment for a recipe for DIY natural repellent skin spray.
But back to safeguarding your off-limits zone. My mother used moth balls to repel the pests. Horrid smell if you get too close. The wasps agree. Line up 3-5 moth balls. Wrap, and completely enclose, balls in a cloth. Tack 2-3 of these packets in the off-limits area. If you only want to keep them away from entryways, one packet might suffice. Inexpensive and readily available, even in grocery stores.
To avoid an unsightly appearance, match the cloth color to the area. Mother used cheap dark brown pantyhose or knee highs. She tacked these to her dark brown patio soffit. Moth ball crystals are even less noticeable. You might also use mesh bags and hang either from hooks. The placement under a covering keeps very little, if any, of the mothballs from getting into the ground.
Ambitious types can treat any wood around the pest-free zone. This could include wood on the residence and wooden furniture/fixtures. Mix equal parts of three essential oils—eucalyptus, menthol, and citronella—in teak oil. Wear gloves. Apply lightly. Avoid saturation.
If pests occupy your off-limits area in droves or none of the above works, check out the many pest traps available. Traps cost $10-$15. Do this as a last resort. You don’t want to be part of the problem when we discover the effect of a world without these pests. Also, check out the upcoming post on plant repellents and traps. At least the natural plants devouring the carcass serve the eco system.
Some people swear by the paper wasp nests. Somewhat like the paper Chinese lanterns. You hang them in the affected areas. The fake nests serve a similar function as scarecrows, fake owls and whirlybirds do for birds. With a twist. Wasps, and like creatures, are territorial. They won’t venture near an established nest. That’s right. Scare the suckers. Without a need for chemicals or baits. No one has to die or swell.
Take note if a nest already exists in the off-limits area. The pests have marked their territory. Wasps in residence will take no mind of the fake nests.
In above circumstance, you have to get rid of the live nest. If you try this, be careful. Experts recommend that you treat (natural spray or douse) wasp nests either at dusk or early morning. Foam sprays with a several foot range would be my choice.
Make sure you’re agile. Wear loose clothing and a hat to cover yourself. Don’t leave any areas for the pests to fly into. So socks over pants. Long sleeves buttoned or tied. Collars secured. Hat over ears. Wear loose clothing otherwise. If a pest lands on your clothing, it’s likely the pest won’t reach skin if it stings.
Personally, even armed as above, dusk is too close to DARK for me. Although, supposedly either time ensures that all the wasps are home. Also, there is less risk of being stung.
I suggest calling in a professional for mature or significant nest(s). DO NOT DISTURB BEE HIVES YOURSELF. CALL IN A PROFESSIONAL FROM THE GET GO.
However, if you’re foolish—I mean courageous enough to go for the other nests, come back for the next installment:
GETTING RID OF THE SWELL – home treatments for stings (including a recipe for the natural repellant skin spray)
PLANTING A DEFENSE – nature’s offerings to repel pests ©2011 DLewis