As the seasons change and the temperatures in the Midwest start to cool, there are lots of things to notice on the landscape. Flowers are at their peak during this time of year. Sidewalk café’s are hidden behind fences of bright lime toned sweet potato vines and ruby hued coleus. Brightly colored clematis works its way up fence posts and lamp posts alike. Petunias star in their own show with fuschia’s, pinks and reds. Sunflowers hang their heads of dark butter colored petals and midnight black seeds. If I made my living by looking for nectar, this would rate at the best time of year.
Presumably that’s what wasps think too. The reason I believe that is because I typically have a wasp infestation around this time of year. They abound in my back yard. They build nests various places in the yard. Sometimes they build a nest behind the stucco siding of my house. Wasps are hard to get rid of. All entry holes have to be tightly sealed and I have tried many methods attempting to get rid of them.
After one recent experience, I do not recommend vacuuming them out. It went like this: Armed with two cans of wasp spray, I got out the shop vac. The brand doesn’t matter as I was using the attachment with the narrow slot to get up under the stucco. Putting on leather garden gloves, sun glasses and a hat, I stood as far from the outside wall as the length of the vacuum hose would allow. I plugged in the shop vac, held the attachment in one hand and readied a can of spray in the other. In retrospect, I probably should have had a bee keeper’s hat with netting, but I didn’t think of that. The idea was to suck the wasps out from the nest and spray any errant flyers. This did not go well.
What really happened was that after a few minutes of being vacuumed, the wasps became quite agitated. Many of them escaped the narrow slotted attachment and came looking for the enemy. I changed vacuum attachments to use the one with the round, open end. I managed to suck quite a few of the now angry wasps out of the wall, but many more were coming toward me. There I was, in the back yard with my shop vac and wasp spray. I began alternating between sucking the wasps out of the wall and spraying the attacking flyers. It was a real battle of wits for a few minutes there. Sucking, spraying, sucking, spraying. Then I started dodging them. I have no idea what the neighbors thought. Some woman dressed in disguise bobbing up and down, wielding a shop vac hose and spraying something from a can while wasps swarmed. Quite a sight, I’m sure.
Truthfully, I did get many of them out of the wall. Some even went into the shop vac. Some died a valorous death by wasp spray. But then, the shop vac started on fire. Now you should know that one is not supposed to spray a burning shop vac with wasp spray. This irritates the wasps and makes the flames jump. I did what any rational person would do when trying to escape an angry swarm of wasps and a fire – I ran. Spraying wasp spray behind me, I ran into the garage, slammed the door, and unplugged the shop vac. Thinking that the shop vac might be salvageable, I waited a few minutes for the flames, smoke and wasps to subside. Many of the wasps just went back to the nest but I counted lots of casualties. I had nearly prevailed! If not for the unfortunate fire, I would likely have eliminated the entire colony. The biggest casualty was the shop vac. Apparently their little motors do not survive fires very well. The plastic housing was also a little melted, making it look sad. The shop vac got put away in the garage and I decided to call an exterminator. I did not tell anyone about the whole thing as I am reluctant to admit when I have started small motor devices on fire. Who knew they needed a vent at the back? I just thought that by plugging it up I would be able to keep any angry wasps from escaping the fate I had planned for them. I didn’t open the shop vac for a while. There were too many wasps making noise in there. Sometimes it’s best to leave these things to the professionals.