Wasp Habitat

Last spring I found a wasp nest on my lawn. It was just a small hole in the ground but it obviously had significant size beneath. Wasps came and went at a  steady pace. I’m not an entomologist so I don’t know what species of wasp, only that they weren’t bees. In my world view, bees are helpful creatures that pollinate and make honey while wasps are just assholes. Ever read up on how wasps breed? Those suckers are the creature from Alien.

Even so, I coexisted just fine with the growing menace. I walked past it several times a week. The wasps would be coming and going from their little hole and I’d stride by carefully. Neither stupidly standing on their hole nor fleeing in terror. They didn’t hassle me. I didn’t bother them.

Eventually, as summer heat got going, the wasps got more numerous and far more aggressive. They started buzzing me threateningly whenever I was in the vicinity.

They’d started threatening me, on my land, when I’d done nothing to them… it was time to kill them all.

See how that works? Put up with plenty and don’t cause waves. But once something gets in your face and threatens you with harm it’s time accept the nature of your opposition and, if necessary, destroy them. Foreign policy doesn’t have to be complex.

One afternoon I sauntered up with a can of wasp spray and blasted down the hole. Get off my lawn bitches! I don’t know how many wasps died below ground but many came streaming out and about half died trying to fly away.

Later that week, to my surprise, I saw a few wasps coming and going. Apparently their underground catacombs were partially immune to gas. Maybe survivors were rebuilding the nest? Possibly some wasps had been “afield” and missed the gas attack? At any rate they were still there and I was impressed.

I’d never really had a problem with wasps in general, only when they got dangerous. In their lower population numbers we’d returned to detente. Then again, they’d sooner or later become dangerous. How much abuse could the little wasp bunker take?

My chickens were milling around. I dumped a pile of scratch grain near the hole and my pint sized velociraptors went to town. Any nearby insect, stinging or not, was doomed. I watched several wasps fleeing and many more stuck in circling orbits, unable to return to their lair. I couldn’t tell if any wasps got eaten but since my poultry are piranha with feathers and they attacked en masse I assumed so. (I’m pretty sure a chicken’s feathers provide a measure of protection because I’ve seen chickens around bees and wasps and the chickens hardly notice them. On the other hand I think bees aren’t quite as tasty as other bugs because chickens don’t actively seek them out.)

The next day the wasps, having survived a gassing and “The Chickening” were still there. Smaller population but clearly inhabiting the same hole. Impressive. What should I do to them next?

A week later I was mowing the lawn. The wasps were, as always, coming and going from their hole. I idled the lawnmower, deck set on low, right over their hole. Sure enough a few wasps were sucked up from the hole and flung from the mower deck. Miraculously, one actually landed, paused a moment, and took flight. Wow!

After the gassing and the “chickening” and the mower vortex attack, their numbers were severely reduced. Even so, they kept on keepin’ on. I had a grudging appreciation for their toughness. I’d bought a second can of spray but didn’t use it.

One day, after several beers, I noticed their hole, still active, and took a leak on it. I don’t think this killed any wasps but it amused me. I got in the habit of pissing on their nest. The wasps never regained their former glory but they didn’t give up either. For my part, I never went a week without remembering to piss on my opponent’s bunker.

It went that way for months. I’d piss on ’em, spray ’em, run the lawnmower over ’em, pour my leftover coffee cup down the hole, whatever occurred to me. Once I parked a truck on the hole for a few days. When I drove off they emerged again. Apparently the nest wasn’t air tight (I don’t think they had a back door exit).

They never totally gave up. It’s amazing what a critter will put up with before it’ll relocate. I fully expected them to overwinter successfully.

This spring, they were gone. Not a single wasp to be seen. I kinda’ miss them. Apparently I’d hassled them enough, the survivors, and I know there were survivors, must have seen the writing on the wall and skipped town. Given their tenacity I’d expected to be pissing on them for another decade. I was wrong.

Sorry to interject politics into a happy story about a redneck pissing on a wasp nest but the whole thing reminds me of Toyota. After 57 years Toyota pulled a factory out of California and relocated to Texas. (It made the papers a few weeks ago; here and here.) Texans cheered. The rest of the country thought “you mean there are still companies trying to operate in California?” Californians were mystified. The LA Times reported “taxes, regulations and business climate appear to have had nothing to do with Toyota’s move”. Yeah… sure. Is that like how I pissed on a bug’s nest weekly and gassed them and ran over them with big rotating blades it was just a matter of the bugs relocating because they wanted a new home with marble counter tops and a shorter commute? Why would a company put up with more hassles than a wasp?

P.S. Some folks have asked if I’m talking about hornets instead of wasps. I have no idea. Not bees. That’s all I know and they’re gone now.

About Adaptive Curmudgeon

I will neither confirm nor deny that I actually exist.
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16 Responses to Wasp Habitat

  1. ron says:

    pour gasoline down wasp hole
    do not light the gas
    the underground fumes will kill the little buzzers

  2. MSgt B says:

    The scratch notes accidentally left at the bottom made my day.
    “Despite being a blogger, I’m not a huge pussy” had me snorting beer out my nose.

    The wasp story was pretty good too.

  3. Steve_in_CA says:

    One day I

    Despite being a blogger, I’m not a huge pussy, so i’

    Like this:
    Like Loading…

    is there more?

    • Color me embarrassed. I have no idea what I was writing, cutting, pasting, or intending to write. Bits of discarded sentences accumulate here and there. (Am I the only one that writes like that?) You’re welcome to imagine it was the opening line to an earth shatteringly good novel.

  4. Stingray says:

    I had my own run in a couple years back with one of these suddenly-aggressive little collectives of burrowing assholes, and I’m not talking about 98%ers, despite the similar hive mind. Declaration of hostilities here, combat records here, and after-action report here. I have no love for those flying little senses of entitlement to my land and airspace, and salute your efforts to reduce their forces.

  5. Rae says:

    Like Ron says, pour some gas down the hole. Not like Ron says, do light it on fire; it destroys the hive in addition to killing the bees, so new ones can’t take up residence. Best to burn at dawn or dusk, when they’re least active and you’ll do maximum damage. Also, it makes for kind of a cool fire. Beware of flying flaming bees (rare, and short-lived, but it does happen)

  6. Albert says:

    You know, I thought it was funny, the guy saying that things weren’t so bad, there were jobs moving in from Seattle.


    Think about it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Just guessing but from your description, I’d say your wasps were yellow jackets, which routinely make nests in the ground. Vintage dawn detergent not available these last several years would instantly kill these little devils, even when diluted to dishwater strength. The dawn detergent you can buy now will still get the job done but not in nearly so dramatic or satisfying fashion. Yellow jackets in ohio do not return to last years nests but build new each year.

  8. randy says:

    A place I used to work at had roaches. We would amuse ourselves by spraying them with whatever aerosol can was handy, since the company wouldn’t buy bug spray. This lead to a couple roach outlines on the floor in blue layout dye, and a grudging respect for the toughness of the little buggers. About the only thing that would stop them was contact cleaner. It would freeze them, but they would thaw out after a few seconds. It took a couple applications to do them in.

    Science/foreign policy, whatever.

    • MaxDamage says:

      At Iowa State University they had the mighty UTR-10 test reactor, 10Kw (thermal) of 97% enriched uranium-powered teapot. Actually, 10Kw thermal is about enough power to run a hair dryer, if you could actually make steam. The concrete absorbed so much heat we had to pre-heat the water going into the core to maintain temperature. So a power source it wasn’t, but it had neutrons and daughter fission elements in spades.

      Being a test unit used for research, it also had the “reactor rabbit.” This was a wooden trolley on a ramp that was used to send items into the reactor core, where you could bombard them with neutrons and otherwise expose them to life inside a working nuclear reactor. Roughly every couple of weeks we’d run something down the rabbit hole, pull the control rods, and nuke the hell out of it for science. I loved that job.

      One fine afternoon the bolts were removed on the portal and the rabbit pulled out, at which point one very hot roach scuttled overboard onto the control room floor and proceeded to scurry for cover. Radiation alarms went off. Three grad students, two reactor operators and one sophomore volunteer cast caution to the wind and attempted to stomp on this roach, by the minute looking less and less like nuclear engineers and more like spastic nerds learning how to dance from watching reruns of Hee Haw.

      One intrepid student finally succeeded, creating a spot of radioactive goo on the floor and his sneakers, both of which were bagged, tagged, and disposed of in proper DOE-approved fashion. Were it not for a pair of high-top Converse who knows what sort of mutant insect population might have been spawned?

      – Max

  9. Julia says:

    The hole in the ground thing makes me think Cicada Killers. They sting the Cicada, drag is underground and lay eggs in the carcus.(spellcheck says that’s wrong but doesn’t tell me what’s right). Son’s playmate got stung in the forehead by one and it knocked him flat. Saw a small dog get stung by one and it died on the spot. Mean Mothers. Julia in Dallas

  10. MaxDamage says:

    You’re not going to light much of a fire underground. Molten aluminum not only kills the wasps but gives you a resulting cast of the colony that you can probably sell to some schmuck in Minneapolis as art.

    It is an affront against nature and the laws of economics to let those people retain their money,
    though I have to admit a casting of a wasp colony is sort of cool.

    – Max

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