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Gardener's Notebook: A bit about wasps

A fake nest may make them think that the property is 'already rented'
flower 3
Wasps can pollinate plants just like bees.
YORKTON - The other day, sitting with some dear friends in their beautiful back yard, we started talking about wasps and how many there have been this summer and how to get rid of them.

First, let’s just chat about wasps for a minute. They are considered pollinators just like bees and hornets, and thought many people think of them as pests, they are beneficial insects that are predators to insects like flies and mosquitoes.

By this time of the year, the queen wasp will not be laying any more eggs. So while the workers were gathering protein for the nest earlier in the summer, now they are done with that work and are busy feeding themselves in this last stretch of summer. This is party time for the wasps, because the work is done and soon they will be, too! Most wasps will die when the first very hard frost comes. Some will survive, the queens, and they will find a spot for themselves to winter, then in the spring they will begin looking for a place to start their own nest.

And as fascinating as we humans think we are, wasps are not that interested to get to know us unless we disturb them. If the wasps have a nest in an area of our yard that is not in our way, we are advised to just leave it alone. Once they leave the nest they will not come back, so it is no longer a threat. And they will die when winter comes.

Even though they are beneficial insects, many people don’t want them around, especially when sitting outside enjoying a cup of coffee or a meal. How to get rid of them?

Doing some homework on this topic was fascinating, because there are all kinds of remedies!

Some practical information first. If it seems like the wasps are always in one area, heading for your house, watch where they go and carefully seal the area off. A crack in the window frame or an open vent can be fixed and end the problem. Early in the spring, (when it is warm enough that the queen may be on the move) we could hang fake nests. Because wasps don’t like their nest near another one, a fake nest may make them think that the property is “already rented”, and they will go elsewhere. If we have fruit trees that have dropped some fruit, we should pick it up and dispose of it. And here’s something interesting: if we see a wasp or wasps and we start flapping our hands at them, bad idea! A squashed wasp gives off a compound that attracts yet more wasps, this time, they’re angry! Be careful!

There are a number of home-made remedies that claim to work against wasps. An easy one is pouring cream soda or orange crush in a bowl and leaving it out on our picnic tables.

I have also seen a recipe for a mixture of apple cider vinegar, water and sugar. Then I have read about that same mixture with dish soap added, and this mixture is used in a pop bottle hung in a tree to attract the wasps.

If we are using a commercial wasp product, we should keep in mind that wasps don’t fly at night, so this might be the best time to use the product on their nest. Be sure to read the instructions, and be careful to follow the instructions to avoid getting bitten.

The wasp issue will soon be past; fall has arrived, and it will be time to clear our gardens and look forward to next year. In spite of all things, hasn’t the summer gone by quickly?

Don’t miss the Yorkton Gardener’s Market on Saturday, from 9AM till noon at the north parking lot of the Prairie Harvest Christian Life Centre. Homegrown produce and more! If you have any questions about the market, just call Glen at (306) 783-7040.

Thank you for Yorkton This Week for their excellent work every week; enjoy this cooler time in your garden! Have a great week!