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seen on fb...and they said welcome to share...
"You're having a few drinks in the garden with your friends, or a family BBQ, when a load of pesky wasps arrive to spoil the party. You haven't seen them all summer and then suddenly they're all over the place, annoying everybody, causing panic and helicopter hands. Sound familiar?

August is the time of year when people start to ask 'what's the point of wasps?' The answer may surprise you.

Did you know that there are approximately 9,000 species of wasp here in the UK? These include the parasitic wasps, some of which are so diminutive they are like pin heads. Of the 250 larger wasps which have have a stinger, the majority are solitary and cause no upset to humans.

However, when we talk about wasps, we're almost certainly referring to the our nation's nemesis, the Common wasp (Vespula vulgaris). To understand why these wasps become really annoying this time of year, you first need to understand their life cycle.

Common wasps live socially like bees but, unlike honey bees, they haven't evolved a way of storing food to allow the colony to survive the winter. In fact the only survivors are the young, fertilised queens who hibernate over winter. They emerge in the spring to build little walnut sized nests where they they lay around 20 eggs.

The queen feeds the resulting larvae until around May, when they mature and become workers. Then she focuses on more egg-laying and the workers get on with feeding them, enlarging the nest as they go along. By this time of year the nest has grown to around 40cm in diameter, often larger, and that nest can contains up to 10,000 wasps!

Then, in late August and September, a dramatic change takes place. The queen quits her egg laying (save a few that will go on to be future queens and males to fertilise them) and no longer releases the pheromone that causes the workers to work.

Basically, these workers are made redundant, and are left jobless and disorientated. And the problem for us is that, although adult wasps are insect predators, that meat is to feed the larvae not themselves. In their adult state wasps are not able to digest solid food and need sugary liquid to survive. Now, with fewer no larvae to feed, they become uncontrollably and insatiably hungry.

Wasps love easy food such as over ripe fruit and your fizzy drinks. Towards the end of their brief lives, their hunger drives them to search for easy sugar at exactly the time when we are more likely to be using our gardens and outdoor spaces for eating sweet things. The timing couldn't be better for them or worse for us.

So why are those who panic and try to swat them away more likely to be stung than those who remain calm?

Well the problem is that these redundant workers have their own pheromone, which helps protect the nest from attack earlier in the year, and that's essentially a chemical rallying cry to other workers that the nest is under attack.

So when you swat that annoying wasp and it feels under attack, that rallying cry will go out. Suddenly it all kicks off, and loads more wasps will start arriving in aggressive 'red-mist' mode, fired up and ready to defend their nest. This is why the best advice is to stay calm.

Think of it this way, from May that wasp has been working its socks off helping to keep things nice on planet earth. Now it’s going to die. So why not give it a break, save your swats, put a bowl of sugary drink somewhere out of your way, and let it go out on a nice sugar rush Smile At the very least don't kill it.

What's the point of wasps? Without them it’s likely that human life would not survive because, in the absence of their role as predators, our planet would be overrun by even more damaging insects such as aphids, ants and caterpillars.

Please feel free to share with others x"

But now the downside...daughter has two wasps' nests in her lawn....and two intrepid 9 year old gardeners intent on poking and pruning everywhere.....
any suggestions?

Make the lawn a no-go area, either by decree, or by barriers!


seems a fair plan if they are ok with sharing with wasps for a while.

much as i like wasps i think i might find that a bit uncomfortable, i'm happy to pick fruit in a cloud of them but we have an understanding that they can forage the yard but they can't take up residence.

As I understand it, it is very unusual to have two wasp nests adjacent.
Perhaps they are two different species?
Perhaps there are two entrances to one large nest?

Useful as wasps are, it may be that nesticide is the only solution to protect the nine year olds. I'm not a fan of the "They'll soon learn to keep away!" school of thought.

A professional pest controller would be the best person to deal with the situation safely.

It's allegedly possible to relocate a wasp nest by digging one up on a cool night when the wasps are asleep, but you need courage and skill to attempt this - I wouldn't try it.


nor would i.

the kids that live there might be ok with a sensible attitude but one of their chums just won't be able to resist poking it with a stick ( with or without a horses head handle' Laughing )

imho secure it by 15 meters or so in every direction or get rid of it/them

if as buzzy says it might be is one nest/two holes chances are there are quite a lot of them.

a wasp sting per kilo of person body mass is getting dangeroos even if the trespasser is not allergic to them.

by quite a lot i mean a total payload in the ten to twenty kilowasp range of angry wasps if they were in and surprised, even during the day there plenty in the nest doing deliveries and chores and there could be a few hundred near enough to follow the screams/pheromones and target the invader fairly quickly.

i have had two near misses, gardening and building, when i have damaged a nest in daytime in summer, both were far too exciting and if i had not reacted well and got away very rapidly it could have gone badly either time.

much as i like them as visitors the colony ones can be a bit hard to live with.

for avoiding them getting too familiar in the woods we popped a bag of sugar in a plastic bag, made a couple of holes and hung it up 150 m away, wasp hotels are ace to keep them off a bbq, picnic or living areas in a waspy forest.

iirc it only took 2 bags a year to cover an acre or so, slightly different problem for your family though

if "lawn " means near the house etc etc i vote lynch.
it upsets me to go for a brutal solution but not to could be far more upsetting if things went badly.
Mistress Rose

Are they the common wasp as they more usually nest in hollow trees, buildings or somewhere above ground? Is there any possibility they could be solitary wasps/bees, or even bumble bees? Underground does seem unusual for common wasps.

If the lawn is not in a general route to other parts of the garden, if possible, I would put up barriers as we need wasps. They are getting a bit rarer, and as you say Gz, we need them to keep down other insects.

good point, is it established beyond dought what they are?

re wasps underground, if they can find a dry "cave " under a stone, roots or an old manhole or whatever they do sometimes use it as a nest site.

when i was a kid one of my school chums stepped through some grassy stuff into an underground wasp nest which might have been in an old rabbit hole ( mixie had recently got rid of the bunnies ) he was lucky to only get a few stings

Thanks all...I'll find out more....
Jam Lady

Wasp Related But Different

As the subject line states, this is wasp related but different from up-thread comments.

Back story - the book I requested that I want to review next month on my web site is an excellent Mexican cookbook. There's an interesting sounding recipe for squash blossom soup that I want to try for an addendum to the review. Since I cultivate friends rather than a vegetable garden I asked the appropriate friend with the exemplary vegetable garden if I might come and pick some male squash flowers. But of course I was welcome to come and pick.

When I got there my friend said that there was a parasitized tomato hornworm I might want to photograph (along with everything else I'll no doubt end up photographing.) You betcha!

Those white dots on the caterpillar are the eggs of a braconid wasp. They will hatch and eat the hornworm from the inside. That's good, because hornworms really destructively chew tomato plants to bare stems. It is also sad, because the hormworm matures to a beautiful hawk moth.

Got the picture, other pictures, squash blossoms too. And sent home with more cantaloupes (she had like a dozen on the kitchen counter, how could I refuse to help . . . ) plus tomatoes and cucumbers.

Now I'm off to make corn cob stock to work into the squash blossom soup. That will be my variation for the recipe's rather generic "stock."

That's what's happening over here across the pond in the Garden State of New Jersey.

wow , that is pretty and ugly.

i wonder how my unfortunate beetle is getting on ?
Mistress Rose

I know it is nature, but rather horrible as well.

Let us know how your recipe turns out. It seems an interesting one. I get squash flowers, but they are not very big as all I seem to be able to grow are pattypan squashes. I have tried butternut, but don't seem to have any luck with them. Apart from anything else, I don't seem to get them to germinate as at the correct time, our house is rather cool, and I don't have a propagator, nor do I really want one.
Jam Lady

How many squash plants do you want to grow? One year, back in Connecticut when I had a plot in the community garden (ran it too) I got a few gallon size plastic milk jugs, translucent rather than clear. Cut off the bottom. Sowed a few tomato seeds, 3 if I am remembering correctly, then set a milk jug over each little site. Shoved in a stake next to the jug. Taped around the jug and the stake to keep things from blowing around. Left the cap off. This was done about 4 weeks early, before the usual planting out time in the second half of May.

Each jug acted as a mini-cold frame. Tomatoes were never transplanted, just snipped off the 2 weaker ones (not that there was much difference between them.) Removed "hot caps" at traditional planting out time. Best tomato plants I ever grew.

Should also work well for squash.
Jam Lady

Soup tastes nice but probably is no where near recipe. Why? Recipe calls for 2 pounds of squash blossoms and the 40 that I picked weighed in at 3.2 ounces. Unless it is a typo I cannot imagine where I would get 400 squash blossoms.

2 pounds of most things is a lot of soup

typo might be the problem , 2 ounces seems sensible for the flavouring in a domestic recipe

2 pounds might be ok for a few portions if the only ingredient is flowers but would that be a nice soup?

400 flowers that are not required to do the flower thing on the plant is rather more thinning than a domestic veg patch might have on soup day , if it is 2 lb where did the recipe come from?
squash farm?

my money is on typo especially as the soup was nice
Mistress Rose

Thanks for the suggestion on the milk containers Jam Lady. I already use them for quite a lot of things, like melting beeswax, taking water to the woods in them and templates for spoons. The main problem I have is germination, as the house is just too cold. I think that they need something like 20C and at that time of year our house is usually nearer 15C.

As the others say, getting that weight of squash blossoms would be a job except at a squash farm.
Jam Lady

I am certainly drifting away from wasps. This might be better in recipes. However - the cookbook is Mexican, and apparently bunches of squash blossoms are sold in the market in Mexico. In which case another problem could occur. The blossoms are very fragile and begin to wilt very quickly. Even when wrapped in paper towel place in plastic bag and put into the refrigerator.
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