When we become gardeners, we learn from those who gardened before us. Some things we learn from books. Some we learn from people. Growing up, I learned that wasps were not allowed to build nests in the yard. Why? They sting and it hurts. So a few years ago when some wasps started to build nests on under the eaves of the house, I’d spray them with something nasty. Problem solved. Then I stopped using the nasty stuff and tried homemade remedies. Vinegar seemed to work fairly well, but don’t stand downwind. That stuff stings too. Last year, I used a sharp stream of water from about 10′ away. Problem solved until they came back the very next day. So I blasted them again. I think it took about 5 times before they got the hint they weren’t welcome.
This year, however, I just didn’t have it in me to continually blast them. I decided that I would give coexistence a try. After all they are considered beneficial to the garden. They are excellent pollinators. If I’m going to spend all this time planting stuff that attracts bees so I get better crop production, it seemed sort of stupid to then eradicate the happy pollinators I already had. They also kill aphids and feed on a number of garden pests including flies, beetle larvae and caterpillars.
The nest that you see is situated near my lavender and lemon verbena. I think they did this on purpose because they seem to love those flowers. I can go out almost any time of day and find them there. It’s also near the faucet where there is always a little bit of moisture. The part that worried me was that it’s two feet from my backdoor. Well, I shouldn’t have been so worried. It’s now the first day of fall and I’m happy to say neither the dog or myself has been stung. And despite my habit of leaving the backdoor wide open when I’m using the computer, I have not once had one in the house. They forage literally all over the garden and just like the bees not once have they seemed agitated or aggressive when I started working on their chosen plant. The photo above was taken from on a ladder about three feet away with a flash. They didn’t even care.
I’m sure that if I were to swat at their nest, they would attack. But can you blame them. While taking the photo I watched them tirelessly go about the business of tending the young and expanding the nest. If you attack anything’s offspring, it becomes aggressive. Besides, there is really no good reason I can think of for doing. So another tradition/habit/whatever- you-want-to-call-it has bit the dust and it’s really about time.