It has been a bad, bad year around these parts for yellow jackets and bald-faced hornets.
Especially yellow jackets. It seems that every time I bump something or drag the garden hose across a different spot, I discover a new and (ahem) exciting nest. This includes random folds in garden tarps. Yikes!
It's been a long, hot, and (mostly) dry summer, which I'm sure helped the wasps. It we take a quiet moment outside, we can hear a low-grade constant hum from all around us. I know of at least four nests in the garden. There were five, but we sprayed the most massive one (located under one of the corn tires). Yes, they're everywhere. Rather amazingly, no one has yet been stung this summer, which is a minor miracle in itself.
The bald-faced hornets are also pervasive.
It seems that no matter which direction we turn, there's something stingy nearby.
The interesting thing is how the yellow jackets congregate near wooden posts. We first noticed this when it started getting dicey to open our driveway livestock gate (which has stout wooden posts at either end) -- yellow jackets were everywhere. But then we noticed the wooden electrical pole across the road had swarms of yellow jackets around it. The neighborhood mailboxes are clustered near another pole, and it has so many yellow jackets that someone hung two traps nearby. Drive along the road and every single pole has clouds of yellow jackets hovering around it. Why? What's so fascinating about wooden posts?
I'm fully aware that wasps are beneficial insects and play a major part in pest control... but this was getting ridiculous. As summer's hot weather draws to its close, it seems the wasps are becoming more aggressive too. So... we got a wasp trap.
The trap came with a small plastic vial of attractant and a cotton ball. The instructions warned that the attractant was so powerful that the trap should only be hung late in the evening or in the very early morning. Yeah right, I thought. How powerful can it be?
So early yesterday morning Don hung the trap on our porch and, we learned, the attractant is VERY powerful. The yellow jackets immediately began swarming around it, and stayed swarming all day. Can you see the ones flying nearby?
All day long we watched the trap fill with hundreds and hundreds of insects.
By late afternoon we had a noticeable decrease in wasps around the house.
Impressed, we bought two more traps and will hang one at the end of the shop, and the other in a corner of the garden. It's always nice when a product exceeds expectations.
I don't like killing things unnecessarily, but the wasps won't last much longer anyway. Once cold weather moves in -- say, about a month from now -- they're doomed. And for the time being, this certainly makes our lives a lot less, well, exciting.
Which is just fine by me.