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yellow jackets in compost pile

Posted by distarr (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 6, 11 at 9:48

I have a yellow jacket nest either in or close to my compost bin. If I use a chemical to get rid of the nest will I have to get rid of the compost or would I be able to use it still? I would normally use it in my vegetable garden. Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Do you have need of the compost at this time. Bees and other insects of this type often put their nests in the ground and do not bother anybody who might be in the vicinity--unless you bother them.
If the compost pile is just added to, possibly turning it can be put off while the wasps use the nest--later in the day. During the day they are usually out of the nest and might be not a threat. Turning and other uses might be then crried out.

Its a shame to kill wasps and bees and other insects because with the bee shortage, polination is still by far the ways that we get our food produced.

I can understand your reluctance to approach the bin but if you can see the wisdom of not killing the insect they will probably not bother you.
Wasps do not like noise....so when mowing your lawn near the place should be with care.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Yellow jackets are gentle when they are pollinating in the garden but are pretty aggressive when defending their nest. It's good you know where the nest is so you can avoid disturbing it. Creating a disturbance will cause them to swarm the area and attack the "enemy". However if you move slowly around the nest, they will likely not feel threatened.

There are lots of threads about getting rid of yellow jackets if you do a search. Personally I would want to avoid chemicals if possible. If you can minimize activity around the compost this year, you can let them stay there. Most of the colony will die off over the winter and yellow jackets don't nest in the same spot 2 years in a row so they won't be there next year.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

My pile is under my deck--at ground level with kids running around. You bet I'd kill 'em. With the harshest, man-made chemical I could find. ;-)


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 7, 11 at 10:35

A few years ago I had a yellow jacket nest at the side of my compost pile. I didn't even know it was there so we coexisted nicely. I took compost from one end and added materials to the other end. The wasps had the middle.

All was well until a relative visiting next door decided he needed some of my compost (didn't ask me) and he dug up the nest, infuriating the little stingers. He didn't bother to tell me and warn me about it. A little later in the day I went out to make a deposit and I got attacked. I saw the broken nest but had no idea what had happened, maybe a dog? I stayed away for a week or so and then went back to the pile with no problem.

Anyway, the next year the relative casually mentioned that he had dug up the nest. Needless to say, I was not happy with him, and I doubt he'll touch my compost pile again without my permission. I don't mind wasps in my yard; relatives are not always welcom.

Claire


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.,USA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 7, 11 at 18:32

I would leave them, if they are not sting you & yours.
If they are or start to, then find the hole they use to get to the nest.
Late in the evening, when they all are in the nest, pour a 1/4 cup of ammonia in the hole & cover the hole with a brick.
Have brick with you when you pour the ammonia.
No harsh chemicals or yellow jackets.
If ammonia is to harsh for your taste, then use water(about a gallon) & a brick.
But ammonia is more humane.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Will a little bit of Raid wasp and ant killer sprayed onto the nest opening in the compost affect the garden when spread out later? No.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

I have a nest close to my pool. The insects do not bother me but I have family who are allergic. I have tried running the water hose on the ground nest and this has not convinced the yellow jackets to leave. I really don't want to kill them and resist using soapy water or chemicals. Does anyone have a way to get rid of them without killing them?


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

There is no way to get rid of a yellow jacket nest without killing them. Once the queen settles in, she never flies again. She stays deep in the nest, and as long as she is there, the nest lives on. Personally, I have ZERO tolerance for any wasps or hornets on my property. Bees I have no problem with, because they have proven to me that they are docile and don't attack, even upon nest disturbance. Bees, bumblebees in particular, will not attack unless you inflict harm upon one of them. You can actually move their nest by hand and they will just follow calmly. Anyways, over the years, all forms of wasps and hornets have proven to me that at some point, they will become extremely aggressive. If you choose to "coexist" with them, then good for you, but me, NO WAY. I learned this the hard way a few years ago, when I decided that the yellowjacket nest in the ground, about 15 feet from my shed, in an unused area of my yard was ok to be left. One day in late summer, I fired up my lawn tractor, and as soon as I backed out of the shed, I got swarmed and stung up. I have to imagine they felt the engine rumble in the ground, and got mad. So, from that day on, I make a point that when my hummingbird feeder starts attracting yellowjackets, I follow them back to their nest and destroy them that night.

As for the advice to turn your pile during the day....bad idea. Sure, a lot of them are out foraging during the day, but the gaurds are on duty, and the hotter the temperature, the tougher they are. Waiting until after dark is the best time to do anything with hornet nests. If you're worried about your compost, get some pyrethrin, which is made from mums, and is a natural way to tackle wasps and hornets. Otherwise, Raid will work just fine too. I wouldn't risk trying to "coexist" with yellowjackets. These ladies, yes, that's right, there's only females in that nest until fall, and males don't sting, are easily set off, and are one of the most aggressive hornets around. Also, they don't do much in the way of pollination; they are more scavenger than anything, looking for meat and sugars, preferrably from humans in the form of juice and soda. Good luck, and be careful, because they can mess you up.

Joe


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

I always find these discussions fascinating, because it shows so much about human nature. How we interact with the natural world, as well as how we view ourselves. Funny how an anti-wasp posting can have such anti-woman slant.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Lisa, my post was tossing out some facts about bees and hornets, and how the nest only has females, up until fall when a crop of males are born for the sole purpose of reproduction. The "funny" part about my anti-wasp post isn't actually MY post, it's yours. I find is quite odd that the first thing that comes to your head is "anti-woman slant". It's almost as if you are looking to find something like this to bring up. I can assure you that the fact that I stated was NOT anti-woman slant, just simply a fact that I though would be neat to share.

I have to say, when I first decided to start participating here at Gardenweb, I was a bit skeptical because I knew I was in the company of a lot of people who don't share my same views, both morally and politically. I just thought to myself "it won't be a big deal, because I'm only here to discuss and share ideas about plants, gardens, etc". But, your repsonse has pretty much made up my mind that no matter what I say, even with good intentions to just share some knowledge I have of something, that someone will miscontsrue what I post, and turn it into some kind of garbage about something totally off kilter. Anti-woman slant......I am happily married, with 2 wonderful daughters, who I think the world of. To have someone accuse me of anti-woman slant is down right offensive.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Spraying anything to kill those yellow jackets will also kill off the bacteria that are digesting the material you want to become compost. If you can coexist with them do so, if you need to kill them (or attempt to) you might need to.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Well, the evil deed is done. After reading everything I could find about yellow jackets and speaking with a local exterminator/relocater, the only thing I could do was to eliminate the nest. The relocater said that he could dig up the nest and move it but we would lose about 80% of the population. That being the case, I had no choice. I used the soapy water which seemed more environmentally friendly than some of the pesticides and hopefully the area will be safe for family and friends who are allergic. Had it been just me, I would have peacefully co-existed with them as they have never stung me, only bitten which feels like a mayfly bite and I feel really guilty about killing them. I hope I can keep that area grassed or ground covered so that this will not occur again.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Well you have to do what you have to do. I agree that spraying is necessary when they colonize the house or places where children play, etc. I once sprayed a nest in the side of the house where the yellow jackets got in by an old doorbell hole that I had been lazy about filling. After that, I finally filled the hole! They like to nest in cavity in the house, rodent holes, log piles, stone walls, etc. So I try to keep the the house and surrounding area tidy and well-maintained (and encourage the cat to get the chipmunks).

Yellow jackets are probably the most aggressive bee species we have in the North. Sometimes you can't help stumbling across them. Twice I've been attacked and stung multiple times while cutting out invasive plants in the back. But one time last year I was weeding an overgrown garden, and suddenly they swarmed me. My hand was literally weeding 1 foot away from their nest (chipmunk hole). I moved veeeeerrrrrrry slowly and didn't get stung. And just avoided that part of the garden till this Spring.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Well speak of the devil, just discovered today there are Yellow jackets going in and out under the dryer vent. Time to get out the hornet spray. Does anybody know when is the best time of day to spray the nest?


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Just before, or after, sundown. You can also do it immediately after sunrise in the morning, but I prefer after dark. This way, ALL hornets will be in there, and they will be inactive. Just be careful, because it is a myth that you don't get stung at night. If a nest is disturbed at night, they will fly out, and although they can't see, they know their environment just like we know our homes, and they will sting anything that is out of place. But, if you douse the nest with spray, you'll have no problems. Be warned though, if they are going into the side of your house, they may be going in a ways, or up to their nest in the wall cavity. If this is the case, it becomes difficult to hit the nest with the spray. The foaming type can be a benefit in these situations, and even more effective is the pyrethrin, that forms a cloud, so you can bascially fill up the void they are in with the spray. Good luck and be careful.

Joe


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 11, 11 at 11:26

Gotta beat the coexistence drum a bit here. When I was a kid at our summer cottage, the yellow jackets would sometimes get into the attic through the vents. Occasionally one or two would come down into the living spaces.

I was taught by my parents how to catch the yellow jacket in a container, cap it with a piece of cardboard, and carry it to be released outside. To this day, I still release lost bugs this way. I don't remember ever being stung (or terrified) by the insect.

My parents would also sometimes sit outside in the garden in the afternoon with a glass of sherry. They enjoyed putting a drop of sherry on the arm of the chair and watching the wasps get drunk and fall off. It doesn't have to be all-out war all the time.

Claire


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Yellow Jackets are not bees, they are wasps. By far and away the vast majority of the time someone gets stung by a "bee" it will be a Yellow Jacket, a wasp, not a bee. Bees do sting but only when their life is threatened because they die when they lose that stinger.
Yellow Jackets do not lose that stinger and not only can they sting you multiple times they also release a pheromone that says to other Yellow Jackets near by, "come help me I am being attacked."


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.,USA (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 12, 11 at 13:53

Kimmsr, I agree.
Joe 1980, Honeybee hive are over 60,000, most of them are female.
A friend calls her bees "the Girls".
I do not think she means anything anti-male about it, they are girls/female.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

I know that, but she made a reference to my post saying it's "funny how an anti-wasp posting can have so much anti-woman slant".

She was accusing ME of being anti-woman, which is what I was yapping about in my last post. I was stating that same fact that you just did, and I got attacked for it.

Joe


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

I didn't get the impression you were anti-women, Joe, just very anti-Yellow jacket. I take a more moderate position, if they are colonizing the house then they will have to be eliminated, as I don't like any wildlife in or around the dwelling (spiders are ok, since we don't have any scary poisonous ones here). Plus the nest by the dryer vent (which I haven't sprayed yet) is right by the front hose. I have to be able to use the hose.

I'm not going to hunt down Yellow jackets and eliminate their nests in the rest of the yard, just hopefully avoid them. I don't have allergies, dogs, or young children that could make a nest risky.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

"It doesn't have to be all-out war all the time.

Claire"

More brilliant words have not been spoken!

Call the experts - your extension service - and have them removed.

...or buy them a drink.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

I'm more of an "anti-yellowjackets in my yard" kind of guy. Here's my logic: If I actually know they are in my yard, it is because I got attacked. If I don't know, I don't care, because if I don't know, it means it's somewhere I don't mess around, and wouldn't even find them. However, in most cases, I find them the hard way, which means they are somewhere I mess around. I also have two daughters, 3 and 6, and I can't be having them get stung. Anyways, I don't find any problems with a lot of the other hornets and wasps, but man, those yellowjackets are VERY aggressive, especially in late summer and fall when the nest is big. I also object to bald-faced hornets, who are even worse, and their sting is WAY worse. Same case here though; I only know they are there if I find them the hard way. Usually, come winter, when the leaves fall, I can see where they built a nest, and its almost always somewhere out of sight out of mind. At least the hornets don't specifically seek you out and harass you like yellowjackets.

Joe


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

I worked for a beekeeper when I was young, I learned a lot about bees and wasps and hornets. Yellowjacket is a wasp, not a hornet, and is one of the nastier wasps. Generally, they are the most dangerous in large numbrs or in high heat. Colonies have what we liked to call, personalities, and weather it be bees or wasps or hornets, the bigger the group, just like with humans, the nastier they can get in a hurry.

One word of advice, If you run across bald face hornets. Large black hornets with a white head, get them dealt with promptly, they are super aggressive and deliver large payloads of venom with each sting. They are not just an annoyance, but are dangerous.


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You ain't kidding Coconut, a few years ago I got tangled up with a bald faced hornet's nest, and got stung in the head several times. It was one of the most painful things I have felt. I was pruning a dead branch out of the top of a maple tree, and must have disturbed them, and upon the first sting, I thought a large branch fell on my head, because it was instant pain. It felt like a 16lb bowling ball hit my head. So yeah, very dangerous, and shouldn't be left to attack someone.

Joe


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 21, 11 at 10:50

Well, if the only time you see bald-faced hornets is when you're climbing to the top of a maple tree, that doesn't seem like imminent danger requiring pro-active slaughter to me. Unless, of course, you regularly climb to the top of trees.

Claire


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by pt03 2b Southern Manitob (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 21, 11 at 11:19

I know I prune trees with my feet firmly planted on the ground. I suspect most people also prune whilst on the ground.

If I saw a wasp nest in the yard, it would be gone asap using whatever means necessary.

Lloyd


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

I'm not sure why so many people can't stand these insects. If you have an allergy, small children nearby, or that the nest is in a particularly bad location, I can understand your reasoning behind getting rid of it. If however, the nest is somewhere on your property where interaction is remote, why destroy it? Wasps and hornets do a lot to improve your garden's natural ecology. They are predators to many less fearful, but highly damaging garden insects. Personally, I want my garden alive honeybees, mason bees, hornets, wasps, and their equally disliked relatives, garden spiders.


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Claire, haha, I wasn't climbing in my tree, I was using a pole saw. The nest was about 4 to 5 feet off the ground out on a limb, so if I didn't tangle up with it while pruning, I would have tangled up with it the next time I mowed. If I saw one way up in the tree, I'd leave it, because it'd be riskier to mess with it then to just leave it alone. As for the tree climbing, I am beyond those days.

Joe


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 21, 11 at 20:39

I can't resist shaking the tree one more time ("with my feet firmly planted on the ground.")

The other day I was stabbed by a very thorny rose cane that had intruded into my path right of way. It really hurt, but I didn't scream

KILL ALL THE ROSES!!

Instead, I went and got my rose-wrangling gloves and carefully pulled the offending cane out of the way and tied it up. Only got stabbed once or twice in the process.

Roses have a very important place in my garden and I'd really miss them (although it can be an interesting experience working on a rose with bumblebees humming around your head). Pollinating insects are important too.

Claire


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by pt03 2b Southern Manitob (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 21, 11 at 21:18

For some, being stung by a wasp could prove to be fatal, hence the remove by whatever means necessary. Mocking these people does nothing for your point of view.

Lloyd


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I have 2 small daughters, my wife, and myself. Not to mention any guests that come over. I will NOT let hornets have a nest 4 feet from the ground where someone can walk into it. And speaking of roses, when I bought my house, there was some climbing roses that scratched my legs when I drove by on the mower. I immediately chopped them down, and shortly after dug out the rootball. I solve problems like these by getting rid of them. If you want to save the roses and save the hornets, that's great, go for it, but I won't be. These kind of choices don't make one person better then the next, and either does mocking someone for those choices, as Lloyd said.

Joe


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 22, 11 at 9:47

I am not mocking anybody, and of course severe allergies and potential anaphylactic shock take precedence and require removal of wasp nests or any other allergens.

However, common sense should come into play in the yard and in life! You don't need to overreact and thrash around killing all insects (or roses) just because a few wasps stung you under unusual circumstances!

The first few replies on this thread were all weighted to one point of view, i.e.. the eradication of all wasps view. I've been trying to present the other view, i.e., coexistence when possible and present it with a little humor. I'm glad to see that a few others have come down on this side, and one of the reasons I've continued is to give encouragement to others who may not want to post (and there's no need to). People should be aware that there are different viewpoints and that it's OK to express disagreement.

Claire


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RE RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 22, 11 at 9:54

Actually, I just went back and reread the beginning of the thread and the first few posts were balanced and sensible. Like many threads, the discussion took off in a more strident direction and tempers are fraying.

My apologies to the OP if he/she is offended, but I think this discussion was worth having.

Claire


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

As a I mentioned, I worked with honey bees growing up and have a great respect for their vital role in our food production, along with any other pollinators. That being said, I have a boxer who is highly allergic to stings and if there are nests around my living area, I will generally get rid of them.

I also entertain guests and don't want someone sipping on a soda and getting stung in the mouth because a yellowjacket crawled in thier can.

I have no problem with people who want to live in perfect balance with nature and I myself am nearly immune to bee stings. I have been stung hundreds of times and it's a mild annoyance at best. I transitioned from a full suited greehorn with my sleeves and boots duck taped closed to a veil only bee farmer over a 4 year period in the field.

The balance for me is, it's MY house and most people don't appreciate being stung, so if a sting happy variety parks thier nest near my living area, it's dealt with, if it's further out away minding it's own business, then I leave it alone.

Claire, comparing a inanimate rose bush to a nest of bald face hornets on a hot day makes about as much sense as comparing a kid with a bebe gun to a dual machine gun weilding John Rambo.

I'd also like to point out that africanized or "killer" honey bees in the souther US states are becoming a real problem. They swarm and are much more territorial than thier docile european cousins. They are also not to be trifled with and should be dealt with if encountered near ones living quarters.


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

Common sense is always at play, in my yard, and everywhere else. I can't recall ever stating that I went around thrashing and killing everything. In reference to the roses, I didn't say I went and killed all roses, I said I took care of that ONE that was a problem. When I find a yellowjacket or hornet nest, it's like I've stated over and over again, I found it because I got attacked. I agree that everyone can have their point of view; that's the beauty of living in a free country. However, my problem here is not your point of view or anyone elses point of view. The problem lies in the criticism of MY point of view. I say that I don't want yellowjackets or hornets in my yard, and the comments start flying about "overreacting" and "thrashing around killing". Not to mention being called anti-woman. The bottom line comes down to this: My yard is MY yard, and I like to use it. I am NOT going to abandon a section of it so that some insects can live there. Your yard is YOUR yard, and I have no problem, or any right to have a problem, with you doing what you chose. The original poster asked for some opinions, and he/she got some. Then, as you said, things got out of control, because my opinion got attacked. But, I must say Claire, at least you stick around to defend your point of view, and I commend you for that. The person who babbled her mouth off calling me anti-woman didn't have the guts to ever even defend her reasoning, or appologize for such a rude and asanine accusation. Anyways, at this point, I'm sure our babbling has turned off the original poster, because we've let this one get a little carried away. I say we bury the hatchet and just agree that we have different opinions about things, and throw in the towel on this one.

Joe


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RE: yellow jackets in compost pile

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 22, 11 at 20:24

Hatchet is buried and towel thrown in. Different opinions are a good thing, they keep you questioning your own beliefs when you may have gotten complacent.

Claire


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