Saturday, May 4, 2013

Paper Wasp in Garden

I took some time to look up yellow jacket, on line and found that I really have a paper wasp invasion. No not really an invasion, but an organic bug controller. Been watching for nests and the best I can see is they come to eat and fly away from my yard. So, they are quite beneficial to controlling bugs that eat plants like moths.

For now I am giving them their space to do the work in the garden. Keeping a close watch for nests and growing population of wasps. I do not like to get stung but I love the worker wasps taking care of the garden business. 

identification: Yellow and black wasps that are usually called yellow jackets. When wings are at rest, they are folded and held out to the side rather than folded over the back like other wasps. Nests are papery, slightly rounded, 4 inches or greater in diameter; they hang upside down.
biology and life cycle: Social insects living with queens, males, and sterile female workers. Overwintered and mated females start nests in the spring in a sheltered place. Cells of a paperlike substance are built from a single connection to a structure or plant in a shady location. Several females may work together. One egg is laid in each cell. Larvae hatch and are fed chewed-up insects and spiders. When ready to pupate, they spin silk caps to close off the cells. Queens lay fertilized eggs that become females. Fertilized female larvae (new queens) are fed a special diet and are the only ones to survive the winter. They are the last batch of females to hatch in the fall. All others, males and females, die. Surviving queens hibernate in dense foliage such as dead palm leaves or in rubbish or old squirrel nests.
habitat: Sheltered spots under the eaves and overhangs of buildings. Also in barns, chicken houses, and other outbuildings. Adults feed on flower nectar or fruit that has been bird-pecked.
feeding habits: Wasp larvae are carnivorous and are fed moth and butterfly larvae that are chewed up by the adult wasp workers.
economic importance: Control of several troublesome caterpillars of moths and butterflies.
natural control: Spiders. Splash water on nest to knock wasps off, then move nest to higher but similar location in the shade. Don't try this if you're allergic to wasp stings or if you are chicken!

organic control: Soapy water or citrus oil products if the nest is in a problem area. Do this only as a last resort--these insects are very beneficial.

insight: Texas yellowjackets are similar but live in nests in the ground and are more aggressive. The wasp's most serious enemies are humans with aerosol spray cans.

I find that the soapy water helps control all bugs. Dried egg shells crushed in the garden keeps slugs and snails away. 

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