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Wasps are nesting in our backyard... what do I do if I don't want to kill them?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hey there, I have a small raised bed veggie/herb garden in our backyard.

I also have an affinity for collecting interesting tree pieces. A year ago I picked up this really beautiful piece of a tree trunk that has been a sort of decoration/sculpture.

But now 4 wasps have made it their home.

Every time I try to go water or remove weeds, they are circling around... I am just not very confident crossing their path. I really can't do much gardening. They are big.

I garden with the baby so really, I am afraid of her being stung, not as much me...

Any advice?

I do  not at this point want to spray them with wasp/hornet poison.

Any ideas?

I am coming from the point of view that if they are living creatures and they have not attacked me, then why should I? But... the plants need water and weeding...

post #2 of 8

We have this problem in our backyard, too! It's really limited our time out there. Don't have any suggestions... but am hoping someone else does!

post #3 of 8

What do the wasps look like?  Do they have the elongated body typical of wasps?  Do they have a long ovipositor ("stinger")?  Or do they look more like hornets, typical bee shape but not fuzzy?   Some wasps lay their eggs in rotting wood, to feast on the larva that eat the wood itself.  Those are the kind with the wicked-long ovipositor-- they are incapable of stinging people.


I ask because some species are not ornery.  If you are not near their nests, they won't be compelled to sting.  They do like water, though, and I like to leave bowls of water out of the way, with a stick floating in it in case they sink (sometimes).  And I just avoid the *immediate* area (sometimes I just avoid the nest itself--most are that gentle).  They are irritating when they hover, but most are not a trouble.  


However, if they are trouble, you need to get rid of them.  Perhaps someone brave can move that piece of wood out of the yard during the night, into a more appropriate place.  I doubt they are yellow jackets (are they?) in which case there are people you can call to remove the nest for free, and they sell them to pharmaceutical companies.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Loveandgarbage- it is pretty funny but inconvenient how all I do now is watch out for them and most of the time they are there, so we turn back. They do seem to leave when we fire up the grill, but then they are back the next day... it is impossible to water.


SweetSilver- thanks for the suggestions.

They are not yellow jackets, they are too big to be that. I believe yellow jackets are the size of bees- these are much bigger.

These guys sort of look like European Wasps or Sand Wasps. They do have the elongated body.

They are probably feeding on the wood, yes.

I am really stuck as this piece of wood is really big and I don't think I am allowed to "trash" it.

I am just going to have to put it back in nature, somehow. The thing is, the piece of wood is right in the middle of the backyard, and most things are pretty close to it, like 10 to 20 ft away. Some things are 3 or 4 ft away. 

This being NYC, you can imagine things are pretty tight...

I did read online that they can sting humans.

I do try not to go close to the nest. They like water? So can I water the plants freely? What if i accidentally water their nest?

Thanks so much.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hey there, good news.

Turns out these are sand wasps and they do not sting like the lady above mentioned.

In fact, they eat mosquitoes, yey!

We have been sharing the garden with them, getting used to being so close.

One learns something new every day and I feel that I am learning a lesson from these intimidating creatures. A part of me is still afraid, but for the most part, I can water and play in the backyard.

post #6 of 8

Oh that is very interesting to know about the sand wasps!  I dont know what type of wasps I have (I think maybe yellow jackets) but they DO sting us and I really want to get rid of them but am opposed to poisoning them.  HOW do I get rid of them?  It has been really frustrating being afraid to go outside and having to avoid the whole back area of my house :(

post #7 of 8

Call those folks who remove the nests for free.  They do end up dead, but it's not toxic to your yard.  The bees goes to laboratories who extract their venom.  (Don't know if it's technically venom in bees.  But you know what I mean!)

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Yellow jackets are the size of bees I believe.

Sand wasps are huge, like really big.

Sand wasps only make sand pyramids in the ground, no nests.

If you have a nest, it is probably yellow jackets or European wasps or some other kind. 

As far as trying to share the yard with them, don't go near them or near their nest at all. Don't breath in their direction. DOn't have anything sweet on you, or anything that smells strongly, like perfume.

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