Tag Archives: hornets

European Hornets Persist in My Garden

European hornet in garden.

European hornets are big, bold but willing to share space.

In the interest of knowing my enemy…better….I wanted to find out where European hornets nest.

Penn State’s extension office gave me the full boat on these very big  hornets who, when challenged, can be pretty darned aggressive.

Apparently, they create nests above ground, often in abandoned trees.  I first saw these hornets in my garden 3 years ago when my figs outdid themselves and the hornets have since moved in but I don’t know where.

I do know that they love my blueberry patch – hence the Tyvex suits on my sister and I as we go blueberry picking.  The colanders are just for show!

Blueberry picking around hornets

Meg and I do battle with hornets for blueberries.

Apparently, our choice of attire was a fortunate one. These hornets don’t like black or dark clothing and will warn you off by butting you.  If you don’t get the message, they will bite to defend their nest but, for all their size, European hornets are considered “docile.”

That said, I still wear Tyvex — now when I try to pick blackberries because that’s where the hornets are in August.  Unfortunately, the hornets are still sharing space with the Japanese beetles that are still hanging on, chewing through my plants and eating only the ripe berries, of course!

Anyway, if you see any of these big boys in your garden, back away slowly. Don’t arm wave or bat at them.  They just want you to go away but if you don’t, if you appear to be a threat, remember that European hornets are big; they will bite with malice aforethought and they can sting 8 or 9 times.

Who says gardening is a quiet past time?  It’s always an adventure in my backyard and I’ll bet it is in yours, too.

 

 

 

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2015 -Year for Garden Bugs & Pests

The annual invasion of all the bugs you wish you never saw is starting early this year.  Looks like 2015 may be a hard year on the garden, the veggies and…me!

I started coming to this conclusion when the ticks started walking through the door, well, being carried through the door. We have 4 dogs – never meant to have 4 but rescued 2 so now we have 2 Westies, a Jack Russell terrier and a

Dogs enjoying a break

Rescued Jack Russell and Mini Schnauzer sharing a chair.

Westie pups in the back yard.

Our Westies doing the stick dance when they were puppies.

Mini Schnauzer.  About 3 weeks ago, they all turned in to “tick magnets.”

Between them, they have brought in a total of 13 ticks, so far!

Hubby and I don’t have flea collars on so we are the preferred hosts!  How do we handle them?

  1. We check ourselves frequently – hairline, back of neck, back of knees.
  2. We pluck them off before they bite & burrow and toss them in hot, soapy water or, oddly enough, soy sauce.
  3. We also “burn” them literally but be careful if you do.

We don’t flush them down the toilet – they sometimes come back up.  And we don’t smash them or cut them in half; they carry bacteria and you could spread them if you are not careful.

Keeping your tick population down isn’t easy but Mike McGrath has some tips.

Ticks were my first sign that this would be a year of bugs.  Then, yesterday morning, I found a wire worm — actually what’s known as a “bug-eyed” click beetle – on my back patio.

Bug-Eyed Click Beetle

This beetle is not dangerous to people or pets but it likes plants and plant nectar.

I literally haven’t seen one of these little dudes in 22 years.  They like to snack on plant juice….and what better place to find it than in my backyard in my organic garden!

This afternoon, I had my first “close encounter” of 2015 with a Bald-faced Hornet.

Now, I don’t mind these hornets hanging about because they do pollinate but I need a bit of time to get used to the idea that they are back in the neighborhood.

Bald-faced hornet

Bald-faced hornets are not the easiest of neighbors.

Although they’re not really hornets (from the yellow jacket family), they sure bite like hornets and they are as aggressive.  And they are usually not in my backyard quite this early .

The hornets and I have an agreement, though.  I go out early to pick blackberries and blueberries and they don’t bite me!

So why are these bugs showing up here, now?

I’m not sure but these harbingers appear to be telling me that despite the desperately cold winter, the bugs are “incoming,”  now!

I’m girding up my loins…right now and dusting off the rocks and other totally organic weapons of mass destruction in preparation for doing organic battle with bugs!