Please help me remain un-stung in my lovely hammock!
July 31, 2020 9:24 AM   Subscribe

We have an active paper wasp nest tucked up under the railing of our deck. It's immediately next to my hammock spot. I'd like to continue reading in the hammock for hours without fear of being stung by wasps. Please advise!

I did search for previous questions on dealing with wasp nests, but there are some snowflake details which render much of that advice incompatible.

As an early birthday gift, Spouse got me a wonderful tented hammock to enjoy over the summer. (You can see it here, as it's somewhat unusual.) It is AWESOME. Unfortunately, I've discovered that there is a paper wasp nest adjacent to the ideal spot for it.

The hammock is on our deck, basically 4-6 inches away from the railing. The wasp nest is tucked up under the railing, in such a way that it's difficult to even identify exactly which nook the nest is in. (For clarity, imagine an upside-down box of about 2x3 inches. These are all along the underside of the deck railing between posts.) I can see where the wasps go in & out, but haven't managed to get a visual on the nest itself. Since it's in this protected spot, there is no way to aim & shoot wasp spray from a safe distance -- the only option is really to stand effectively under the nest (the worst place to be) with only a couple feet between us and the nest.

While the hammock tent is very effective in general at keeping bugs out, at least twice now I've found a wasp trapped in there. I simply let it out, and all was well. But I'm concerned about the safety of hanging out so close to the nest as more wasps hatch & gather; I also would not love to have a wasp trapped that I didn't see, and then have to attempt to unzip the thing as I'm being stung! (I have found one dead wasp in the hammock. I was in the hammock at the time & honestly have no clue where it came from or how it died, except it may have been trapped in the light curtain I use for extra shade. I did not get stung in that case.)

Any ideas? I'm totally fine with ideas that are not lethal; I get that they're helpful predators of garden-eating bugs, etc. I'd also rather not call an exterminator for this, as the scale is pretty small. Since we can't just gear up & safely spray it, I'm stuck for what to do to either deter them or ensure they stay peaceful.
posted by dryad to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could provide a bit of water in a dish with rocks and some cardboard over in the other corner of the yard. That will attract them and keep them busy but will also (slightly) help them make more wasps.

Another thing you could do is make lots of smoke around the hammock, but that might deter humans too much too.

You seem pretty chill with them but I'll reiterate that they are generally non-aggressive unless you threaten their nest. Even if you swat at one it will prefer to fly away over stinging you.

As for spraying: I get that it's an awkward angle etc but if you do it very early in the morning or very late at night they will be pretty sleepy and you should be fine as long as you're wearing long pants, sleeves, and a big hat. You can probably do some serious damage even if you don't eliminate them, and that will set them back a peg so they aren't as much of a presence.

The colony is probably just a little shy of peak size, assuming you're in North America.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:31 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]

Many apiarists will move them for you for free by request, even though they're not bees. There are some in my area that offer all the time. Maybe do a google search for your area + apiary to find folks and send out a couple of emails?
posted by juniperesque at 9:36 AM on July 31

I have been fighting wasps by using a wet dry shop vac partially filled with water and dish soap. I placed & secured the hose very close to the nest and run it during daylight hours. I have collected HUNDREDS. All of the collected wasps are dead after I run the vac for an hour or so. This is a lethal option w/o chemicals, AFAIK the wasp population is healthy, it's not a situation like killing bees which I would never consider.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 10:27 AM on July 31 [2 favorites]

Hang a knitted wasp nest near the area. Wasps are very territorial and will leave if a bigger nest shows up.

I actually just balled up a paper bag and hung it on my porch when I saw them starting to build and I havent seen a single wasp in my whole yard all summer. They usually buit one nest under the porch roof and another in a bit of warped siding on the back of the house. Very pleased to be wasp free!
posted by ananci at 12:48 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]

Paper wasps are extremely chill. You can just ignore the nest. Even if you bang into it they won't come after you. If you had a yellow jacket nest or bald-faced hornets you'd need to kill the nest. But paper wasps are nothing to worry about. If you are insistent on spraying the nest and killing them, just do it at night. They don't fly in the dark.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 1:49 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]

Mix of water and dish soap in a spray bottle. Wait until dark. Soak nest.
posted by Splunge at 3:01 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]

Having seen many paper wasps around my house since moving in, I did research and found they're not aggressive, really. I guess sitting on them would be a problem though.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 4:07 PM on July 31

We've had a paper wasp nest next to our main hangout area for years now. We eat and drink and had many guests, there are tons of flowers. They have never once even made an appearance other than far above people's heads. Paper wasps have their own business and I would be very surprised if they cared about yours.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:51 PM on July 31

I was attacked several times by paper wasps for the crime of standing on my NC porch, so I must respectfully disagree with those who say they are non aggressive. Maybe mine were unique but I would recommend eliminating them with extreme prejudice. Spray the nest the way SaltySalticid recommends, well after dark so they’re asleep and then, an hour or so later or in the early morning if you don’t see any, take a broom handle and knock the whole nest down. Put it in a sturdy plastic ziplock bag or Tupperware container with a tight fitting lid and either keep or toss.
posted by mygothlaundry at 4:07 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]

Thanks, everyone, for the tips!

While I have observed that these are generally not aggressive, it's the proximity of our space to the nest itself -- and the fact that they have been getting accidentally trapped -- that makes it an issue. I've marked a few Best Answers that represent the tips I'll implement if it seems we can't peacefully co-exist. (Unfortunately, have not found any local apiarists who will move wasp nests, as that would be my ideal solution.)

For now, we have a trap for wasps and yellow jackets in another part of the yard, and hopefully that will draw them away enough. If that fails, then we'll be looking at carefully spraying and removing the nest.
posted by dryad at 8:15 AM on August 2

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