Yellow jackets in my garden

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"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.

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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 ignored us.
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:
http://zootal.no-ip.info/stuff/June%202006%20Paper%20Wasps/images/paperwasp2.jpg
This one is fuzzy, but it does show the legs hanging down, something that yellow jackets do not have.
http://zootal.no-ip.info/stuff/June%202006%20Paper%20Wasps/images/DSCF3593.jpg
"Matthew Reed" <nospam at zootal dot com nospam> wrote in message

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Matthew Reed wrote:

http://zootal.no-ip.info/stuff/June%202006%20Paper%20Wasps/images/paperwasp2.jpg
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.
Carl 1 Lucky Texan
--
to reply, change ( .not) to ( .net)

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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.
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Matthew Reed wrote:

Hi there!
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.
--
Lar

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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.
Jo Ann
Lar wrote:

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"Matthew

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.
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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: http://www.getridofthings.com/getridofwasps.htm
It might help.
Sam
Lar wrote:

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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 humans.
"Matthew

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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 make more".
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: http://www.ent.orst.edu/urban/PDF%20Files/Yellowjacket_Bulletin.pdf
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