As you may have noticed, yellow jackets and wasps seem a little more aggressive as the summer progresses. The reason for this behavior is not all that complex but may differ a bit from your standard ideas about what causes this phenomenon. Keep in mind there are differences between the sub species of Wasps, Hornets, and Yellow Jackets. For the sake of this quick read, we are generalizing a bit and ask that you continue researching as there are tons of great resources online.
As summer progresses, food and water sources become harder to find for all living things–makes sense right? The grass is brown, the flowers are fading, and the trees are just starting to turn. This is, obviously, due to the continued heat and reduction in moisture over the summer months and is taxing on small insects that need to stay hydrated. This leaves our flying hunter’s primary food sources less available to forage. During this transition to warmer weather and with less protein available, namely other insects, for the wasps to eat, they turn to more available carbohydrate sources. And what are people known to have at picnics and barbecues? That’s right; popsicles, sugary sodas, fresh fruits, and all the things that Vespidae, that’s science speak, for wasps and yellow jackets, are attracted to. So what seems to be more active and aggressive behavior is basically increases in shared space and attempting to enjoy the same things.
So what can I do to get rid of wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets?
There are a couple of interesting hacks that can help to keep your party from being crashed by stinging insects. Because they are meat eaters, take a 5-gallon bucket and place it safely away from the area. 20+ feet is a good start. Fill the bucket halfway or more with water and place a bit of detergent in the water. Then place a stick across the top with meat on it. Try different types. You can also tie the meat to a string to lower it closer to the water. The wasps will come in to get the meat, eat a bit, and some will fall into the water. The bubbles will make it harder for them to get out. You lower the population, and you attract them away from the festivities!
The second hack is “the pop bottle trick.” Again, place your apparatus far enough away to attract yellow jackets away from your party. Take a 2-liter bottle and cut it in half turning the top upside down and place it back into the bottom piece you have just cut. This is your trap and should look like a funnel. Pour your favorite sugary drink into the bottom as the attractant. Oddly enough there is one called “Bug Juice” likely at your local convenience store. You may want to stay away from this trap until evening as the yellow jackets may be very active around it. The stinging insects are able to make their way in, but it is much harder for them to get out. Again hack achieved, party saved, hooray-hooray! Oh and we should mention that to get rid of the residual liquid and dead yellow jackets, you should wait until late evening and pour out the water or sweet liquid in an area away from people, or dispose in a sealed garbage receptacle.
Keep in mind pests are only pests when human interaction with them reaches a threshold of intolerance. Stinging insects to those that are allergic are a danger, while to others they are a nuisance.
Maybe you are hearing scratching noises in the attic at 2:00 A.M, or perhaps you see rodents on the fence line of your property heading your way, or the worst feeling is when you find chewed up items and droppings in the basement. All these signs of rodents are alarming, but the question is, how do you get rid of them?
You’ve got them–rats in the house–now what?
Rats are classified by two seperate species, Roof rats and Norway rats. Roof rats are smaller and lighter in color with longer tails. They are generalists but can be found on the ground accessing buildings through openings in siding and foundations, in trees gaining access through roof and window voids, and even power lines gaining access through flashing or chimneys. Norway rats are larger, darker and stay near the ground. They access some homes by burrowing under foundations or through voids in foundations and vents. They can climb but prefer the ground and generally stay near the nesting and food sites.
Rodents in general and rats specifically stay near buildings and covered areas. They use their sense of smell and whiskers to find their way in the world. Pheromones left by other rats are a constant invitation to spaces and areas rats have visited. Once established and they feel safe rats will explore but they are considered creatures of habit and are skittish of new things in their environment. What does this mean for you? Don’t just think you can throw a bunch of traps out with peanut butter on them and solve your problem!
So, what do you do?
- There are easy fixes to your problem. However, because the fixes are easy, they may not be effective the first time–but keep trying!
- Cut back vegetation that is touching the home. This is the easiest route to your roof so make sure there is no access.
- Exclude and fill any gaps in the foundation or base of the home, including exterior decks. This eliminates entry from the ground level.
- Fill burrows with crushed rock. This stops or slows entry from under the home and crawl space. If executed correctly the results will start immediately, but there is more work to do!
- Ok, so you stopped them from getting in, now what do you do with the ones trapped in your house? Remember when I said they are creatures of habit? Not any longer. Now is the time to put out your traps with peanut butter, bacon, or whatever you like. They are now scared, and the environment has changed; this is your opportunity to trap them. Trapping will now be more effective even if your exclusion measures were not a total success. You can also put bait stations outside to start bringing the population to a more manageable level. You do this now when they are not using your home as a site for refuge/harborage because you do not want the smell of a dead rat in your home and the expense of having a contractor remove it.
- While you may question the idea of monthly or quarterly maintenance visits, remember what I said about the pheromones. These do not go away quickly and years later you may still be visited by rats following the scent trail. There is also the problem of environmental conditions and population growth. Unchecked populations will rise and fall based on environmental factors. If the neighbors constantly leave garbage out, if you live close to a restaurant or apartment building, or even you have a rockery or ideal living conditions for rats, populations can rise. Remember there are three things needed for a population to grow. Water, food, and harborage. If all three exist rats will successfully breed and remain a nuisance.
With autumn here, we wanted to remind everyone of a few important items:
- Clean/inspect your gutters – Make sure your down spouts are connected and that rain water is diverted away from the foundation of the home before the heavy rains start.
- Check for leaks – After/during a rainstorm, poke your head into your attic and looks for signs of roof leakage. If we are on site for a job, we would be more than happy to do this for you.
- Inspect your furnace – At a minimum, you should replace your filter. Consider hiring a professional to look over your furnace and give you a thumbs up.
- Perimeter check – Walk around your home and look for anything out of the ordinary. Clear away any debris that may have accumulated around your foundation and be sure there is space between the ground and siding.
- Crawlspace vents – Be sure to check for debris in or around crawlspace vents and ensure the vents are intact. These vents help eliminate moisture making your home healthy and energy efficient.
We are your local choice for Pest Control and are GreenPro and QualityPro certified by the National Pest Management Association.
This Katydid joined us on the slide at Lake Jane park on September 30th in Bonney lake Washington. The long antenna and leaf like wings differ from Grasshoppers. Jack was enjoying himself on the slide when he noticed he was sharing the toys with the little green insect. I took the photo with my Samsung S8 around 10:30 under mostly sunny skies.