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"Wasp Out!" Those Aren't Bee Nests In The Ground!

Q. Dear Mike: My sister-in-law has a bee problem. They are about 3 inches long, black with yellow stripes, and are burrowing in her flowerbed. How does she get rid of them? Thank you,

A. Those aren't bees! These amazing 'cicada-killing wasps' prey on the giant noise-making bugs that seem to be everywhere this season. The females actually capture and fly the huge cicadas, much larger than the wasp, back to that underground nest. It's like a bird trying to drag a car around! These wasps (like the vast majority of bugs) are neither good nor bad. She shouldn't have to do anything about them, the males don't have stingers, and the females aren't aggressive. (The only reported stings are when barefoot people accidentally step on them.) And they'll soon disappear, when their burrows are filled with big fat cicadas for their young for feast on.

Q. Dear Mike: We have an underground bee hive in our garden. They stung my wife (who had to go to the hospital) and son. We must get rid of them; they're very aggressive and the location can't be avoided. Killing is my last resort. Do you know a beekeeper who might want them? Any other ideas?

We have a yellowjacket nest in the ground near our front door. Is there a way to get rid of it without too much death and destruction? Or, alternatively, is there a way to lower their property value so they don't return next year? Thanks for the great show! I often use it in my Environmental Science classes!
-----Tom at Penn Wood High School ("Those who can, do. Those who can't should have listened to their teachers!")

A. Tom has it right, these aren't bees either. Aggressive stinging insects with underground nests are yellowjackets. These nasty wasps LIKE to go after people, and are responsible for most of the so-called 'bee sting' deaths in the US. Beekeepers don't want anything to do with them, and they SHOULD be killed!

Trapping is one way. You can buy traps at any hardware store, or make your own: Use a Phillips-head screwdriver to punch a single hole in several jar lids, put a couple inches of something strongly sweet-smelling in the jars, put the lids back on and place near the nest. The wasps fly in but they can't fly out.

Or smother them. Wait for a cool night, CAREFULLY put sheet metal or carpeting over the entrance hole, weight it down with rocks and you'll smother the nest. One summer, I put a big load of 'motel ice' in my wheelbarrow, dumped it on the nest, came back an hour later and put clear plastic over top, making sure the edges were tight with soil and rocks. The ice stopped them from putting up a fight and the sun cooked the nest the next day.

If you live in a rural area, dump some dog food or peanut butter over the entrance on a cool night; skunks will dig up and eat the nest!

Or use this great tip from a YBYG listener: Plug one of those backyard 'bug zappers' in right next to the entrance hole; it will fry all the wasps in that nest the next time they emerge.

Don't bother with pesticides, they can't reach inside the nest. And luckily, the nests are not reused, so if they do come back next year, it won't be right there.

Sting Cure & Warning!
These highly aggressive wasps attack fiercely, and they can sting you repeatedly without harming themselves. That's why yellowjackets are responsible for the majority of so-called 'bee sting' deaths in the United States. If you're allergic to stings, make sure you carry your emergency kit EVERYWHERE with you. Allergic or not, don't walk barefoot in the grass.

If you do get stung, have some meat tenderizer whose active ingredient is papain or payaya on hand, Adolph's is one such brand. Shake some of the tenderizer onto a damp washcloth and press it against the sting; enzymes in the papaya will denature the protein in the venom and you'll soon feel completely unstung!

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