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Yellow jackets nested under a rose bush beside my house this summer. I wasn't surprised to discover this - for weeks I had noticed a lot of them buzzing about in my backyard - but the way it went down was unfortunate: I disturbed the nest while watering and the nasty buggers came after me in a swarm. I ran crazily into the house, swatting them away as I went and tearing off my shirt, which one had somehow gotten under. But they nailed me in five spots, ranging from knee to ear. That was some painful shit and, worse, a day or two later, exceedingly itchy! Since these f---ers were obvious threats to life and limb, I undertook a campaign to destroy the nest. At first I put a cap (a kitchen bowl) over the nest entrance - this was suggested on a few websites as a chemical-free way to take care of the problem. It didn't work. The ground under the rose was layered with old leaves and other organic matter and the actual opening to the nest was far below. They just tunneled through the fluffy stuff and made a new entrance/exit at one spot on the edge of the bowl. So this is the spot I began targeting with a wasp/yellow-jacket spray sold at the local supermarket. The spray is best suited for the hanging-style nests that you might find under eaves; you wait until nighttime when they're all home in the nest watching Fox News or whatever it is they do in the evening, and then drench the nest from 25 feet away. Still, I figured I'd give it a try with my ground nest. The morning after the first after-dark chemical assault, there were slow to get going, but by noon were buzzing in and out. After sortie No. 2, they were quiet for a full day, but then came back. It ultimately took three $5 canisters of the spray to get the job done. After a week of no activity, I removed the bowl and found an impressive mound of clay pellets around the nest hole. These weren't mottled like the ones you picture, but were smooth. Like pebbles. So that's the point of my story: My yellow jackets left their clay blobs right at the next entrance/exit, and they were smooth, not mottled. As a PS: After I removed the bowl and marveled at the mound, I pushed down on it with my foot, trying to work it into the hole. My thought was that if I left the hole, some of their ilk might come back next spring. I was surprised to find the ground give way a few inches. I kept feeding material into the hole and pushing down and the ground kept giving away, spreading out from the entrance/exit. Clearly this was quite a subterranean complex they had developed. Ultimately I had to shovel on soil from elsewhere to stabilize and level the ground.
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Mar 24, 2011