It’s summer time and the livin’ is easy! Bust out the plastic pools and lawn chairs, kick back and relax. Get one of those sweet fat bottom glasses and a tiny umbrella, and hey, I don’t know, maybe you could put a bendy straw in there too. Have you ever been chillin’ pool side when you noticed either a family member or neighbor running frantically in no particular direction from nothing in particular? Maybe they heaved themselves into the pool, because, you know, the water is an excellent protective measure when you’re escaping from invisible creatures. After a good long minute beneath the serenity of your 6 X 9, your comrade bubbles up to the surface to take a peek to make sure the threat has flown back from whence it came and then explains to you that a psychotic wasp had been chasing him for what seemed like miles. Fear not, Columbusites, tracker jackers are not native to Ohio, or even earth for that matter, so you’re not in any extreme danger. What you may be running from is merely a wasp protecting its nest or more likely just buzzing by.
So now that we’ve identified the problem, it’s time to identify the solution and deciphering the type of wasp is the first step. There are wasps that live underground and undercover, wasps that live in nests, and wasps that live in mud. There are wasps that live socially, or in colonies, and wasps that are solitary and primarily live alone. If you’re like me, the sight of one causes you to flail uncontrollably and continually swipe at your head and body, effectively demonstrating your penchant for early 90s dance moves. Usually, however, they have their own agenda and are not interested in you so it’s best to just ignore them and move on.
Common wasps in Ohio
Paper wasps and their nests are very common in the Columbus area, so I’m sure you’ve seen one. The nests tend to be strategically placed near the windows and doors of homes, seemingly popping up over night. These particular wasps are not the most aggressive but will sting when they feel threatened or they are handled, but they generally do not seek out humans. It’s important to knock down this nest and then spray with insecticide to break up the scent of their pheromones. If the area is not sprayed, the wasps can sense where a nest once was and they will build it there again. After you’ve knocked the nest down and sprayed, you might want to think about getting a wasp decoy decoration for your porch. Studies show that wasps will not build their nest within 200 feet of another one.
Mud daubers are frequent flyers of the Columbus area, and you will find them burrowing in, you guessed it, mud. You might spot their nests on the side of your house, or in various crevasses in the form of tubes. They are hunters and will effectively limit the population of spiders in your garden, so if you can live with them they can be a good form of pest control. Mud Daubers are not very aggressive and rarely sting, but their nests are not the cutest addition to your neatly groomed house. These nest can just be scraped off and then disposed of with relative ease.
Hornets, on the other hand, cannot be so easily handled. They can become extremely aggressive when they perceive an imminent threat to the nest and there is never just one. Their teardrop shaped nests are usually in bushes or on trees and are made of twigs and other gathered material. If it’s located in a highly trafficked area, it would be in your best interest to rid yourself of the problem professionally.
There are very few, if any, preventative methods that you can take against wasps. If you can at all avoid areas where they might be, then do so, because soon the winter will come and the livin’ ain’t so easy for a wasp as they die off in the colder months. If you are brave enough to swat or scrape down a nest, please use extreme caution, wasps take that stuff personally.