"Matthew Reed" <nospam at zootal dot com nospam> wrote in message
We had a yellow jacket ground nest in our small orchard in Oregon. The dogs
were being stung and avoiding the area but I didn't find the nest until the
day I stepped on it. I was swarmed immediately and hi-tailed it back to the
house swinging and swatting. Many, of course, got in with me and I even
found several inside my clothes. That night we dug out the nest and sprayed
it. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of them. Be careful in your
garden until you find the nest hole, then you can decide if you want to
tolerate their presence. I think they become more aggressive in fall, but we
and our neighbors were getting stung at any time in summer.
Update: I conversed with Sterling International, Inc. about why their traps
were not catching any of these. I did a bit of research and took a close
look and I believe that these are paper wasps, not yellow jackets. I did not
understand what the different insects are called. These "paper wasps" are
very common here, I've lived with them for years and am somewhat familiar
with their behavior. I just didn't know they were called paper wasps. As for
the yellow jackets, I'm also familiar with them as well, but did not know
they were "yellow jackets". We have very few of these around here, which is
a good thing. Ahh..I have learned something today :)
So - any experience with paper wasps? Should I take steps to trap them to
reduce the populations? I know where to look for nests, and have not seen
any around my house or garden. I know that they tolerate you approaching
their nests to about 1-2 feet before they will take defensive action - they
built nests in the entrance to an apartment I once lived in. You could stop,
look up, and see an active nest 12 inches from your nose. They pretty much
Again, my concern is that they may take offense to my working in the garden
with them and disturbing their foraging. Plus my children play nearby. To
date there have been no stings, but I'm careful to avoid working in their
immediate vicinity. I notice they are not in the garden during early morning
or late evening hours, but prefer the warmth of day.
Oh, here are some pics - not very good, taking pictures of them was a bit
tricky, but this one is quite good:
This one is fuzzy, but it does show the legs hanging down, something that
yellow jackets do not have.
"Matthew Reed" <nospam at zootal dot com nospam> wrote in message
2 days ago I almost broached this subject of local mis-nomenclature. My
entire life we (my family and everyone I know native to this area) have
used the term yellowjacket for a yellow&black wasp that builds an open,
paper nest, usually between golfball and baseball size, with downward
facing cells, hanging from a 'stem' often under the eaves of
houses/buildings. We have a somewhat larger red wasp with a similar
habit. To my knowledge we have no social underground dwelling wasps. We
have some social bumble bees that CAN be agressive and will make nests
near the ground - under sheds, etc. And Cicada Killers that look very
scary but I have never known one to sting a human. We may have hornets
but I have also never seen a nest in suburbia. We also have plenty of
mud daubers. They are of less use to gardeners as they eat spiders.
1 Lucky Texan
Wasp, yellow jacket, hornet. I've always used them interchangeably, and in
ignorance. I'm still not sure what a hornet is.
The people at Sterling Int. identified my first pic as a paper wasp,
possibly European. So, that definitely explains why they are ignoring the
traps I set out - the lure they use is very specific to yellow jackets, and
does not work on paper wasps.
I've been reading all the articles in this thread with the same idea in
my head. I am somewhat familiar with both yellowjackets and paper
wasps, and have confused the two at times. Yellowjackets nest in holes
in the ground, and are known to antagonize humans (especially when
we're carrying picnic lunches).
Paper wasps construct nests above the ground and often in pretty
exposed places, such as stuck under the eaves of a house. I get a new
paper-wasp nest on my house every few years or so. Paper wasps pretty
much ignore humans.
Now, gardeners, listen up -- both paper wasps and yellowjackets like to
eat insect pests. If you can live with them, they will provide you
with pest control service!
Like the original poster, I have seen large numbers of paper wasps
working my flower beds over the past two months. My nearby vegetables
are healthy. I think I'm doing the right thing by letting the wasps do
their job. I might have more problems with a nest of aggressive
yellowjackets, but the paper wasps can definitely stay.
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Reed" <nospam at zootal dot com nospam> says...
:) So - any experience with paper wasps? Should I take steps to trap them to
:) reduce the populations? I know where to look for nests, and have not seen
:) any around my house or garden. I know that they tolerate you approaching
:) their nests to about 1-2 feet before they will take defensive action - they
It looks to be a transplant called an Europeon Paper Wasp. They nest
usually in hollow or enclosed areas where our native species may be just
under the eaves of a house, so you may not find the nest. They should
be of no concern to you in the garden or kids playing unless you
accidentally sit or step on one bare footed.
I used to rent an older mobile home, which was apparently wasps' vision
of housing paradise. I talked with an exterminator and found there was
no way to get rid of them that didn't take out every bug in its path,
so I tried hard to adopt a live and let live attitude toward them (the
occasional Raid foray behind the shutters and around the door trim
notwithstanding). I chased down and evicted many who drifted inside
when the door was opened (I recommend a Mason jar to clap over them and
one of those subscription cards that fall out of magazines to cover the
mouth of the jar -- easy to slide under the jar while leaving the wasp
trapped and sturdy enough to hold up while you take the intruder back
outside). Even though they looked intimidating, they really were not
aggressive at all.
Every year they would build an elaborate hanging nest under the eaves
(an interesting process to observe, actually), and every spring they
would wake up w-a-y out in the woods, where I tossed the cone after I
plucked it off in the dead of winter.
FWIW, the only time I got stung was when I put on a sweatshirt fresh
from the clothesline without shaking it out first and interrupted the
wasp that was investigating the inside of the sleeve.
That is what the guys at Sterling said they thought it might be. Those are
very common here, I've seen them build nests in the eaves and ignore humans.
Still, I'll destroy the nests if they build one on my house. Now that I'm
over my yellow jacket panic :-P I'll see how they tolerate me pulling up
turnips while they forage.
I think Lar is right, paper wasps aren't terribly concerned with human
beings (child or female) unless you're spraying water on their nests
and being a nuissance.Here is a webpage about trapping wasps and how to
prevent a wasp infestation or at least keeping your yard clear of them:
It might help.
That is pretty much the conclusion I've come to. I don't want their nests
under my eaves, but they don't seem to be very aggressive at all. The yellow
jackets are evil, but the paper wasps don't seem to be bothered by us
In my experience (same area as you), the traps won't make a bit of
difference. The whole philosophy behind insects is "Don't worry, we'll
If they like hanging out in your garden, it's probably because they're
getting some sort of protein they like- as in other insects, or small
seeds, like mature Shasta Daisy pods, or that roast beef sandwich you
left sitting out.
Unless you're allergic to their stings, your best strategy is live and
let live. Don't panic when they investigate you, keep food covered, and
try to enjoy the garden during times when they're less active. All
easier said than done, but it is a doable solution. If that isn't in
the cards, then your best bet is to use poison baits after mid-summer,
so that you can wipe the entire colony out.
The OSU extension web site restates most of what I've said on the
subject in this bulletin:
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