Talking about our experience with the bees in our house walls reminded me of another story about our experience with a wasps’ nest. I don’t know what it is with bees and hornets around here! We seem to have more than the usual amount of wasps and hornets on the property. I suspect this may have to do with the fact that our property is the only greenspace in a sea of asphalt. We have the road in front, and a business with a parking lot right across the street; there’s a church parking lot to one side of us, and a business on the other side with a large parking area, too. Behind us is a steep hill that is heavily wooded. The wasps must tire of their forested homes and wander down to nest on our property, where temperatures reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit due to the asphalt all around us. Our yard is warmer than the others due to the sun-soaking properties of these parking lots. It’s why I’ve been desperately planting dozens of trees over the years. I won’t go into how difficult it has been to cultivate this property, what with the maniac snowmobilers, the neighbors’ kids and their hacksaws, and the jealous neighbor with his lawn mower… I’ll stick to one horror story at a time.
A few years ago, one summer, I was walking up the driveway to retrieve our mail when I spotted a large gray thing in the maple tree above. I looked up to see– to my horror– the largest wasp nest I have ever seen, and dozens of the little devils buzzing all around it. I picked up my step and got out of there pronto.
It was a huge, huge nest. Twice as big as a basketball. Maybe three times as big. It was enormous. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t spotted it before. The tree leaves were very thick, and did conceal it. But it was huge. And scary.
I snapped a photo with my old film camera. It is hard to size the nest without a guide, but there was no way i was going to climb the ladder and pose with the thing. You can determine how large this monster is by looking at the maple leaves hanging over it.
We debated about what to do with the thing for a few weeks. I’d read that it is best to try to remove a wasp nest after dusk, as all the wasps are home for the night and they become sleepy. But this was such a big nest. We couldn’t spray it or lob it off like we would a much smaller nest.
Eventually, we realized we’d have to wait until cooler weather to remove it safely. Once the temperatures started to dip below 40 degrees, the wasps would be dopey. Our chance came one September evening. My husband and I got a large lawn-sized trash bag and he slowly crept up the ladder to encase it. I stood nearby with limb-cutters, ready to chop off the limb when he had it wrapped. The surgical procedure went smoothly. My husband tied the bag up securely and we left the bag outside. The wasps would be smothered in the bag after a few days.
We dared not open the bag for weeks. Eventually, a tree limb fell on the bag, tearing it open. The wasp nest had ripped in two, exposing a lot of swirled paper. There were almost no wasps in the nest, save a few larvae. I was surprised. Either the wasps had vacated the nest before we bagged it up, or they’d found a way to escape during the time we’d left the bag alone. In either case, we were very relieved to have the monster taken care of.
Life is absolutely never dull around here, I tell you!