One evening last week, I stepped out onto the balcony, with a chair an a novel, ready to relax for awhile. I had scarcely cracked the book when I noticed a number of wasps swooping and buzzing around above me. I went back inside. The rest of the evening consisted of a ground-to-air assault. I distracted them with a bright light from a window. I would dart out, spray them with some Simple Green soap, and then duck back in before the angry swarm could sting me. I had just bought window cleaning gear, a long pole with a squeegee on one side and scrubber on the other. One Pole, Many Uses, it read. I used it to scrape both of their nests down. I stomped on the nests, which produced a foamy crunching sensation.
Later in the week, I checked to see if my haven was clear. They kept rebuilding in the same two spots. I hit those with Blue Mint Listerine and another squeegee assault. They came back. Even when the vestigial nest marks were almost gone, wasps still hovered under the eaves. What was the attraction?
A coworker told me that this was not unusual for Austin. "I spend at least 30 minutes a day killing stuff. Lately, gnats, and fire ants. Get some poison, dude.
I drove to an organic home and hardware store, hoping they might have some natural insecticide (based on chysanthemums?) I explained my predicament to the two women behind the counter.
"They're beneficials," one said.
Yeah, I don't necessarily want to kill them. Just persuade them to build elsewhere, I said.
"They are not human predators, offered the other. They will only attack if they smell the pheromones from aggression or fear."
I've done some meditation, but I am pretty sure that I was not going to be that mellow. "Yeah, I'm not comfortable with a dozen wasps circling my head while I am reading a book."
One of the sales ladies walked me over to the gardening shelf. They had repellents based on orange oil, but nothing that listed wasps on the label. "Even if you poison them professionally, they will keep coming back to the same spot," she offered.
Finally, the gardening guy stepped in, switching to me from a customer who had questions about buckwheat pillows or something. I needed a bucket of soapy water and Super Soaker squirt gun. Kills them on contact, with no poison, he said. About the only other thing I could do was paint the eaves blue. "They think it's the sky and won't land there."
I went for the squirt gun option. HEB had an (X-Stream!) 32-ounce water rifle for ten bucks. I filled it with Mandarin Orange hand soap and hot water. Several times. The wasps were not really clustered in one spot, so each insect took several shots. They moved quickly. I'm glad that my West neighbors have not moved in yet, considering the stray 30-foot arcs of soapy water.
Then I saw it. There was a nest 3 times the size of the first two, hidden up in a recessed light fixture. Crawling with wasps. I snapped this photo. Then I soaked them. The adults fell or buzzed away. I knocked the nest down with the other end of the squeegee pole, and squished it. A few more reloads of the orange soap rinsed off the tile floor, along with any scent that reminds the things of home.
Score: Non-toxic aromatherapy soap 3, wasps none. Now, where is that novel...
Labels: Austin Wildlife