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~The sad life of the wasp~
Who's be a wasp? It's rotten when everyone hates you. In the insect lottery of life, the bees got all the good PR. Everyone likes bees. They're hard working, furry, cute little critters. They do that funny bum wiggle dance, they pollinate plants and they make honey - and best of all it's said that they only kill you if they really have to and they give up their lives in the process. Noble little beasties indeed. By contrast, wasps go round dressed as down-market wannabees, decked out in stripy garb that's like a market-stall knock-off of the real bee finery. Whilst bees are out buzzing about, pollinating and honey-making for all they're worth, wasps are hanging around on street corners, upsetting the neighbours and bringing down the neighbourhood. I have a good friend who's something big in bees (I kid you not) and he swears the only good a wasp ever did was purely by accident.
I like beasts of almost all types. Not crazy about crocodiles, loathe mosquitoes, but I have nothing against wasps. Even after one of the nasty little sods stung me repeatedly in my ankle and it blew up like I had elephantiasis, I still don't hold their behaviour against them. When others go all flappy and crazy when a wasp turns up, I'm that annoying person who says "Let it be, it's only little, it won't hurt you if you don't fuss". I open windows and encourage them outside with sheets of paper. Yeah, I know, people hate wasp lovers.
For several weeks I'd been aware that something sinister seemed to be going on under the windowsill outside our study. Whenever I looked out there were wasps buzzing about and popping under the sill. We'd had a wasp nest at the other end of the house a couple of years earlier so I was pretty sure they were building a nest but I didn't particularly intend to do anything about it. Then I heard the sound of Eddie the window cleaner's ladder outside the window and saw Eddie the window cleaner's 'lad' standing on the top of the ladder flapping like a scared little child and gibbering "I'm sorry, really sorry, but I'm really really not happy around wasps". It was going to be a tricky business - deal with the wasps or lose a good window cleaner.
I told Eddie's lad to move on to the next window and to not worry about this one and then shouted for my husband to tell him what had happened. He went to hunt down a can of wasp killer in the garage. Next thing I knew, the three brave men were debating who was going back up the ladder to sort out the unwelcome guests. Eddie's lad was still in shock, gibbering about some or other nasty childhood wasp incident. Hubby knew he really ought to do it but he's not got a head for heights. Eddie stepped up to the mark, muttered something about "If it's got to be done, it's got to be done" and headed up the ladder. Eddie's rarely seen up a ladder these days, prefering to 'supervise' his lads and to deal with the ground floor windows, but he shot up it, squirted the anti-wasp foam under the sill and shot back down again as quickly as he could. Hubby and I then stood safely inside and watched as dozens of little striped monsters met their maker.
The can had been emptied onto the nest and within hours the flat area outside the windowsill looked like something from The Killing Fields. Despite the mound of corpses, other wasps kept turning up to pay their respects, to check out what had happened and to clearly not learn their lesson. With none of the original foam left, hubby went out to the hardware store and returned with a plastic carton of Doff Wasp Nest Killer. By this stage the number of wasps had dropped to the level where subsequent applications of killer chemicals could be made by leaning out of the window and puffing at the nest.
The chemicals come in a 300g 'puffer pack' with a child resistant lid and can be applied directly onto the nest. When I watched hubby puffing the powder all over the place, it was clear that even a light wind picks up this fine powder and blows it around. Whilst it's not too bad doing it outdoors, I can imagine that this would be really unpleasant to apply inside your house or up in the roof space where our last nest was. If you need to do that, I'd suggest wearing a mask as I can't imagine that something that kills wasps is entirely benign to human beings. The active ingredient is described as 'bendiocarb' but I'm not sure what that's supposed to be. Apparently the powder coats the wasps who then carry it into the nest and help to destroy it and their nest-mates.
~Doff your Cap to Doff~
My impression was that the foam was a lot more controllable than the powder but my husband said that he felt the powder was more effective and easier to use and was what he'd buy again. Whilst the foam was easy to apply from a bit more of a distance when the wasps were swarming around it, it wasn't as effective at the important act of waspicide. Despite the first wave attack killing a lot of the wasps quite quickly, rather a lot of stubborn little wasps kept coming back to visit their dead friends. Whether these had survived the first onslaught, or whether they'd been off somewhere else in the garden and missed all the fun was not clear to us but just a few days after the wasp killing started, only a few are popping back now and are getting puffed into oblivion.
Our last wasp-nest problem was so bad that we had to call out the council pest control people to deal with them. This time, thanks to Eddie's lad's flap, we got to these fellas early enough to stop things getting bad. Hubby paid £2.95 for this round the hardware store and I'm pretty sure he'll be back to buy some more, especially as that seems to be cheaper than the RRP which is normally around £4. Doff Wasp Nest Killer does what you need it to do, is quick and deadly and doesn't leave a mess other than the heaps of dead wasp bodies.