Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yellow Jacket Nest Removal - Attempt #1

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, our attempt at taking care of the yellow jacket nests over by the garden were unsuccessful. I've been waiting until I was satisfied that I had complete results before doing a post. At this point, I'm confident that what we did had absolutely no impact.

We had two nests to deal with. Nest #1 is in a hole that is about 1.5" in diameter. It is on a nice level piece of ground, with no obstacles near it. Nest #2 is a smaller hole, maybe 0.75" in diameter, and is located very near a small tree stump, and partially underneath a small log that was being used to frame out the border of the garlic bed.

After doing quite a bit of research, we decided to try two of the lowest impact suggestions that we found. My Dad keeps telling me to just pour a bottle of gasoline down the hole, but we are very hesitant to do this because of the risk of contaminating the soil, especially since we plan to be planting our garden on those spots. Other suggestions include sticking a fogger or bug-bomb down the hole, or using a insecticide dust, which we might have to more seriously consider now.

We waited until after dark one evening, and gathered all of our supplies in the RTV and headed over to the garden. Andrea and I both dressed in boots, pants, gloves, etc to protect against stings, but that turned out to be unnecessary. I didn't see any yellow jackets while we were trying to treat the nests.

For Nest #1 we applied both of the methods that we had decided on. The first method is to pour a mixture of water, liquid castile soap, and peppermint oil down the hole, followed by boiling water. We mixed the water, soap, and peppermint oil in an old milk jug, so we just had to shake it up before pouring down the hole. To boil the water I used a propane camp stove, which was set up in the bed of the RTV.

The second method we tried was to place a glass bowl over the hole, and pile dirt up around the edges. The idea is that the yellow jackets will see the light, and assume they can get out of the nest, but be trapped by the bowl and eventually die of starvation. This method had been suggested by the presenters of one of the workshops Andrea attended in the past, and I also found some anecdotal evidence online about its effectiveness. We figured it was worth a try.

For Nest #2 we only applied the first method, as the location of the hole would have made it difficult to fit a bowl over it. I did, however, cover the hole with dirt after filling it with boiling water.

The next day I went over to check on the nests, and found that both were very active. The bowl over Nest #1 was filled with many yellow jackets flying around, which is what I had expected. There were, however, a few flying around the outside, which told me that there was another entrance to the nest, which is something I had seen mentioned several times during my research. Nest #2 was very active, with dozens of yellow jackets flying around the pile of dirt covering the hole. It was evident that they too had used another exit from the next, and were likely trying to figure out what happened to their front door.

It has now been a week and a half since we treated the yellow jacket nests, and nothing has changed. The bowl over Nest #1 is still filled with yellow jackets, but there are several flying around the outside of the bowl. I have been trying to locate the other entrance to the next, but so far have had no luck. I need to come up with a better plan that just sitting and watching I guess. I have located the other entrance for Nest #2. That hole was just a few inches from the other one, but was underneath the log so I had not seen it. After covering the first hole up, though, I was able to see that they were flying under the log, so yesterday I moved it. I may be able to get a glass bowl of jar over that hole, so figure its worth trying one evening.

I suspect that the reason neither method worked is that I had not located and addressed the secondary exit from the nests. Had I covered both holes with a bowl, then maybe that method would have worked as planned. As for the mixture of water, soap, and peppermint oil, I'm not confident that method works at all. We never saw yellow jackets leaving the nests after pouring the mixture down the holes, so this makes me think they didn't even try to escape. I've read that the nests are built in such a way as to be protected from water, since obviously rain will run down the holes. Maybe pouring more water would have helped, although we used more than was suggested. I'm not clear on what the mixture was suppose to accomplish, though. Perhaps this method would have been somewhat more effective if the second hole was covered, but I'm not sure.

Part of me wants to be lazy and just wait until winter and let the cold weather kill the nests. If we do this, however, it means we'll have to wait until Spring to prep the garden. We had hoped to plant a winter cover crop. Also, I need to prepare a spot for the garlic this fall, so that has to happen whether we get rid of the yellow jackets or not. There are several areas I could use, but I'd really prefer having the whole plot available instead of having to work between the areas where those nests are located. Hopefully I'll be able to do a post on Attempt #2 sometime soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment