Waging the battle with summer pests
By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Jul. 5, 2012
This year seems to be a good year for ants in my neighborhood. Colonies have taken up residence among the rows of beans in my vegetable garden, and their cousins quietly established several colonies in the brick paths that surround our home. The armies that march the paths are of little concern, but the ones in the garden just had to go.
You probably know that I am partial to home remedies or non-toxic commercial varieties. At first I doused the openings of the garden nests with ground red pepper. It was the first time I had tried this solution, and I have to report that, while it did seem to disrupt and disturb activity, it did not totally deter the ants from their normal routine.
In the past I have suggested a home remedy of boric acid mixed with either a sweet or a fatty substance. This time, however, I used the commercial version of that remedy. It takes a little time for the ants to discover the bait, and take it back down into the nest. After a week during which we had both sun and rain, the colony was either deceased or relocated.
The type of ants I found in my garden are much different and less destructive than carpenter ants. You can leave them to their business only if they are not near or in your house. If you spot round holes in your wood siding or window frames, and you also notice sawdust-like material, you should be concerned. Apply an insecticide into the holes, then plug them up.
Like ants, there are different varieties of bees, most of which are benign. The ones you will likely see in your flower garden and buzzing around clover blossoms are honeybees. They have small, furry, orange and black bodies, and are more concerned with their work than with any threat you may pose. Leave them alone, and they will leave you alone. Besides, they are doing good work for some honey-lover somewhere.
That being said, honeybees have been known to make your residence their residence. Although they won’t cause damage, the presence of their honey will almost certainly attract other insects. If you see these furry visitors entering and exiting through holes or cracks in your building, call in a qualified company that can help you deal with the eviction.
Other bees you will see in your flower garden include bumblebees. They are slow and non-threatening, even though their buzz and their size can create alarm. Just be certain that what you are looking at actually is a bumblebee. These bees are black and yellow, and will have bands of yellow on their bodies. Take a close look.
While you have no worries about the bumblebee, the wood bee has a completely different agenda. As their name implies, they like wood, and they are adept at boring into it to take up residence. You will want to find a way to rid your home of these creatures. While there is a resemblance to the bumblebee, the wood bee has less yellow among the black, and the body is completely black - no yellow stripes.
Wood bees bore large and symmetrical holes in wood shingles, siding and trim. While there may at first be only one, several others will almost certainly appear. Where there is a hole bored, there will also be a sawdust trail. As with the carpenter ants, apply an insecticide into every hole you can find, and plug the hole up. You may find that the wood bees have bored out elsewhere. Be watchful for this, and repeat the process with insecticide.
Then there are the bees that strike terror into the hearts of children and adults alike. These are the wasps and hornets. It's hard to envision a benign hornet or wasp, but adopting a live-and-let-live attitude is best, if these creatures are far from normal traffic areas. However, since these bees like to create nests behind shutters, under eaves and soffits, your path and theirs might cross. Yellow jackets also are fond of boring into the ground to build nests. Since they always seem to have a chip on their shoulder, dealing assertively is my preferred tactic.
There are several products in the marketplace that will shoot long, lethal sprays at wasp and hornet nests. They can be kind of messy, and you might be uncomfortable having these killers stored around your home. You can also find or make a trap that will capture and reduce the population. These are jars that contain sweet bait. But once the critter gets inside, exit is impossible. This can be a good solution because it both attracts the undesirables away from the house, and affects their demise. Best of all, it is non-toxic.