Wildlife Pic of the Day

I'm back in Virginia for a few days. I'll be hitting the road once again on Friday, heading west this time to visit friends in Kentucky. In the meantime, here's an interesting photo of the light fixture hanging between the garage doors of my parent's house:





What's that ball-like thing underneath the light? Let's take a closer look:





Yikes! That's a hornet's nest!

Even cooler is that my parents never even noticed it was there. It fell to my five-year-old niece to point it out.

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Got stung by a wasp the other day. First time since 2006. On the grand scale of pain, not a big deal (I'm not allergic). But for a milligram-sized beastie, they pack quite a wallop. The whole afternoon after it happened, I was thinking "its amazing how this sensation came out of that teeny tiny stinger."

That's nothing. Where I live (Moengo, Suriname) you can see them varying from one wasp-nests till colonies at least ten times as big in your backyard.
Fortunately in tropics wasps are far less aggressive. The exception is the African Killer Bee, called the Brazilian Bee here. Once I have seen a swarm of African Killer Bees. That was incredibly frightening. That day I ate an extra portion of bami to thank and praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster for not letting them inside where I hided.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africanized_bee

Looks like they are conquering the States too.

Bald faced hornets are very beneficial because they control yellow jackets which are horrible outdoor barbeque and picnic pests. Give the hornet nest some space, and the hornets will hunt yellow jackets.

Having said that, in this instance it may be very difficult to live with the hornet nest hanging between the two garage doors.

Neat.

If they don't cause problems I tend to have a live-and-let-live attitude. I had a wasp's nest by my seldom used back door. Those rare times I used it as long as I didn't slam the door the wasps pretty much stayed cool. When winter rolled around they moved on and I broomed the abandoned nest off. We got along.

With a remote door opener and the ability to drive in and close the door behind that nest may not be an issue. Some of that may also depend on when the doors are opened. Cooler temperatures and night make them harder to rile. Then again you're no spring chicken and that implies elderly parent who may not have the agility to dodge angry beasties without the danger of falling, or the constitution to withstand a few stings without it becoming a medical emergency.

If it comes to getting rid of them there are options. Wait until night and cut the nest down as swiftly and smoothy as possible. Let it fall and just let it lay there. If you are quick and handy you do it in one smooth motion, get away with few of them taking flight,and no stings, they will be relatively unharmed, take the hint, and move on the next day.

There are commercial insecticidal sprays that project fifteen feet or more and they are convenient and less than twenty bucks. You spend a chunk of change and poison both the wasps and the surrounding environment but it is an option.

Doing service work where I absolutely have to work too near a nest to avoid injury I make do. I seldom have the spray around and usually resort to a about ten cents of gasoline tossed from an open topped container. Both the liquid and fumes drop the wee beasties very quickly. Toss and come back in ten minutes and if you did it well most of them will be curled up on the ground. Do it early in the morning when all of them are home and you don't have stragglers showing up. Murderous, but effective and cheap.

Your parent's what never noticed? ;)

Oh, and as long as folks are providing wasp advice, I'll chip in: You can buy a fake nest and install anywhere you don't want wasps; since they're territorial, they'll supposedly avoid it. I have neither anecdotes nor data on that, thought.