Recycling Wasps and Yellow Jackets
Bugged by pesky wasps and yellow jackets? Before you reach for the toxic spray, make a quick phone call to your nearest bee keeper for information and advice. Often, bee keepers can recommend somebody who will safely remove the wasps without resorting to toxic sprays. After all, these busy little pollinators may seem like pests, but they have a part to play in keeping nature balanced.
Those in the Seattle area can call Doug Cheney, who provides a unique service in the Seattle area, removing wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets from places where insects and people collide. He does it without using toxins of any kind. His weapon of choice? An elderly Hoover Port-A-Vac vacuum cleaner. Doug Cheney and his Hoover come highly recommended by the Washington Toxics Coalition, among other folks.
Non Toxic Yet Usefully Lethal
“Many people don’t really like to use poisons and are glad to know about a non-toxic way to get rid of wasps,” Doug explains. That makes him a busy guy, especially between June and September, when the insects are at their peak.
“If you get a busy signal when you call me, keep trying,” he advises. Sometimes his voice mail box fills up faster than he can respond, but he makes an effort to get back to every caller. Doug emphasizes that wasps and yellow jackets aren’t looking for trouble. “If wasps act consistently agitated over time, it’s probably because of some environmental irritation,” he explains. That might mean a door that slams all day as kids run in and out, vibrating a nearby nest. It could be a curious dog investigating a busy nest, or the constant rumble of new construction.
When Wasps Get Testy
Many kinds of regular interference can ruffle a colony, though wasps and their kin tend to ignore activity that doesn’t affect their daily routine. “If they get annoyed, they get testy,” says Doug. “If they aren’t being bothered, the workers just tend to their own business.”
Problems arise when wasps nest around frequently used areas. If the nest or its entrance is visible, Doug can usually remove the critters without much fuss. It just takes a few minutes for him to whip out the old Hoover and vacuum out the inhabitants. His Hoover is outfitted with a special collecting tube that holds the extracted insects. This tube is removed and flash frozen for shipment to a pharmaceutical firm that specializes in allergy medications. “That’s why there’s no removal fee,” Doug explains. “The medical company pays me, so I don’t need to charge you.”
He could easily tack on a small removal fee, but would rather encourage a brisk trade. “By not charging, I may get some customers who would rather pay five bucks for a can of poison than pay me ten bucks to take the wasps away. I’d rather they didn’t buy that can, so I don’t charge.”
Wasps Behind The Wall
Doug stresses that he can’t handle any and all situations. “It’s not easy to remove them from house walls,” he notes. “But if you can see the nest hanging from a tree, or see wasps coming from a hole in the ground or an old log, I can probably help you out.” People worry when wasps get into their house, but generally, it’s just a one-season problem. “The entire colony is going to die off anyway, and though a few new reproductives may linger over the winter, when they wake up in the spring, they just leave. They won’t use the nest again, as a rule.”
Teach Your Children Well
Recycling potential pests into anti-allergens is a worthy way to make a living. It does have a down side, however; “It’s pretty slow in winter,” Doug admits. To counter that slack period, he’s put together a slide talk for school children that is both educational and entertaining.
What worries Doug the most is that although many people develop serious allergic reactions to stings, so few people take precautions when they leave home. His best advice? “Take some benedril along on your next camping trip–that’s a better choice than an extra battery for your electric toothbrush.”
If you should happen to get stung by a wasp or yellow jacket, having an antihistamine on hand could make a big difference to the severity of the reaction. Sound unlikely? It’s not. It happens often, as I know: A few years ago, my family was walking in the woods in November. My mother was stung by a wasp, went into anaphlactic shock and could easily have died.
We spent a tense half hour tracking down medical help–not always available in small, remote communities. Luckily, we found help before her throat closed up, so nobody had to perform an emergency tracheotomy with a Swiss Army knife. Now, she always packs a bee sting kit when I take her out (her hiking days are over but she still enjoys a little outing, especially if a plant nursery is involved). I like to think that sting kit’s life-saving elixir was made from venom contributed by Doug’s Hoover.
Yellow Jacket, Hornet, and Wasp Removal
Educational Slide Lectures