Wasps, Yellow Jackets and Bees

cguest29August 12, 2012

My veggie garden appears to be having an invasion of stinging insects. Red and black wasps, yellow jackets, and some huge bumblebees. I have not seen any honeybees. This just started yesterday. I currently have okra, chinese long beans, watermelon, and some tomatoes growning, the bugs seem to like them all equally. I would like to go plant some more items, but the very air around my garden beds is humming there are so many insects, this deters me. Is this happening to anyone else? I don't want to risk killing the bees, but the hornets I can do without. I have checked around the eaves of my house for nests, but no luck. Any suggestions?

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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Wasps will do some polinating as well as the bees, plus they feed on caterpillars and aphids that might be on your plants so they are doing good. They don't sting when foraging. They sting in defense of their nests, not when bumped while foraging so just go among them and do what you want.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 4:44PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I have a problem with the yellow jackets, but the others have never offered to sting and when I see a red wasp with a grasshopper, I want to protect all of them. Roselee is right about their being great pollinators as well as eating bugs, etc. I never bother them (with the exception of the yellow jacket which I am allergic to).

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 5:14PM
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Roselee, how do they know if it's a bump or a threat? If the branches are moved and you get even near a nest, wouldn't they have the instinct to protect? I think i've been stung in the past while doing just that. ;o)

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 5:45PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Yes, if you bump a paper wasp nest, or rattle a shrub that they are nesting in, you'll probably get stung, but if you bump a wasp or a bee while they are foraging out in the garden they just move on. Of course, if you step on one in the grass while barefooted you'll probably know it. But for all the good they do I try to let them live as much as is possible.

I got stung by a paper wasp recently when I reached in a bougainvillea plant to dig a hole for a fertilizer pellet and didn't know a nest was in there. I didn't hold it against them. I'd sting too if something was knocking my house around so I'll just leave the nest alone until it's time to put the plant in the greenhouse for the winter. Later when I got pretty close while peering in among the branches to see what got me they didn't do anything.

BTW, if you splash alchohol or hydrogen peroxide on the spot it helps to neutralize the sting.

It's my understanding that it takes several stings over time before you develop an allergy.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 6:12PM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

My experience is similar to Roselee's. I got stung by a wasp when I dumped all of the ice from the icemaker on top of the (hidden) nest. I really can't blame them for that! This past week, I disturbed a wasp that was flying around/in my black-eyed pea vines, I was looking for pea pods to harvest. It flew away from me. I still need to get out there with a long stick and gingerly look among the leaves/stems to make sure there isn't a nest.

I think the main thing is to be slow and gentle and calm, and when you see them flying around, talk quietly to them, tell them that you're not trying to hurt them. I know it sounds funny, but it allowed my mother to paint around the nests attached to the eaves of the house. She didn't get stung, even though she painted around a number of nests.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 8:09PM
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What does a paper wasp look like and why is it called a paper wasp? I see what look to be light-ish brown wasps, are those the paper wasps? ;o)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2012 at 2:01PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Tx Ag, I've had the same experience as your mother in painting right up to the stem of the nest under the eaves. They just got real still and watched. When they start flicking their wings you're getting a little too close for their comfort.

Patty, there's lots of different kinds of wasps that build their nest from wood fibers and saliva making a kind of paper, but the ones pictured on this link look like the more gentle paper wasps that we're talking about.

I have a photo taken when the camera was practically on top of them and they did not object.

Here is a link that might be useful: Paper wasp - Wikipedia ....

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 1:01AM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

Some of these built a nest in the driver's side wing mirror of my truck. I had not driven it in a few weeks because I needed a new battery. When Triple A sent a truck out, I popped the hood. When I got out and shut the door I was stung 3 times. One stung me twice under my right ear. I had to pull it off my face. It made the lymph node swell for about 4 days. Very unpleasant!

Here is a link that might be useful: Red wasps

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 11:07AM
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Yes, I've noticed more wasp like things this year and not the small bees I usually have. HAven't been able to locate nests and this makes me a little leary.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 1:27PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Ouch! Red wasps are a whole 'nuther' animal. They build their paper nests inside something like a bird house, a hole under the eaves where they can get into the attic, or like inside your wing mirror; and they are more agressive in defending their nests. I've never been stung by them, but Bob has and he said they hurt more than paper wasps.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 1:33PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

But the point to the original poster is that even the larger and more agressive red wasps do not sting when they are foraging around plants in the garden either polinating or eating the bad bugs including grasshoppers as Carrie has seen them doing.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 2:46PM
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I have heard that these insects are great around the garden because they consume aphids, worm eggs as well as the worms, and they do not harm your plants. I have not noticed any web worms this year and i attribute this to these beneficial insects.

Just keep your distance and let them enjoy their meals.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 2:05PM
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Mud dubbers are the nice ones, paper wasp-hornets make their home out of plant fibers and hang like a globe they do not like to be bothered. Large bumble bees are usually ground bees and you just do not want to disturb their homes-hole-in-the-ground either but do not seem to be much of a problem either. We just have to learn how to live with these bees-wasps-hornets as they provide a lot of help when it comes to keeping down critters we do not need in our gardens. As for mud dobbers I wait until they are not home to move their nest off the house. If they want to live anywhere else I do not mind.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 2:25PM
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IAmSupernova(SE Texas 9A)

I actually haven't seen hardly any wasps or bees around this year. Kind of unusual, we usually have plenty of red wasps floating around the yard.

I noticed a new flying bug that I can't quite get a good look at, that I've never seen before. It definitely has 2 sets of wings, but it does not have a dragon/damselfly shaped body... It has a body shaped more like a wasp (fat/short rather than skinny and long) except it's probably twice as big as the average red wasp. It never lands and darts around too fast to get a good look at.

No idea if this mystery bug is chasing off the wasps/bees or if it's just taking advantage of the lack of wasps/bees..

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 4:44PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Being large, wasp like, and darting around sounds like it might be a 'Cicada killer'. They are interesting creatures and pose no harm, unless you are a cicada.

From the link below: "Solitary wasps (such as the eastern cicada killer) are very different in their behavior from the social wasps such as hornets, yellowjackets, and paper wasps. Cicada killer females use their sting to paralyze their prey (cicadas) rather than to defend their nests; unlike most social wasps and bees, they do not attempt to sting unless handled roughly. Adults feed on flower nectar and other plant sap exudates."

Here is a link that might be useful: About 'cicada killer' on Wikipedia ....

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 5:19PM
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IAmSupernova(SE Texas 9A)

Yeah that's almost definitely them.. A part I left out is the reddish color I see from their wings. I can't tell if they do have 2 sets of wings, but I can see how the shape of them would lead me to believe they have 2 sets..

I'll take a closer look next time I see them, and if they fit it'll put me at ease.. I usually see them while mowing the yard, they seem to like to hover directly over the freshly cut grass which puts me in very close proximity to them. Honey bees don't really bother me, their stings don't even phase me.. But Yellow Jackets, Red wasps and the like do, and that fear only grows as their size does.. As you can imagine, I've been quite nervous while mowing the yard, it seems to draw 5-10 of these things in.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 8:58PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Since the adult cicada killers feed on plant sap it may be the scent of the freshly mown grass that attracts them.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 9:59PM
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