Sunday, August 21, 2016

How removing wasps from a trailer is harder than you might think

I actually think there may be more than one lesson here. Sometime last week, my son-in-law, Justin, was throwing a dilapidated old cabinet into the bed of my truck-bed trailer. There was already some stuff in the trailer. I usually wait until I accumulate enough stuff in it that a trip to the landfill is warranted before I empty the thing. So, prior to the cabinet, inside the trailer were some pieces of sod, some bush and vine trimmings, a huge, flat cardboard box that the fireworks prize I had won last year came in, and various odds and ends. In all there was a layer less than a foot deep in the bed of the trailer. Anyway as Justin threw the cabinet in, he was swarmed with yellow jackets and got stung on the neck before getting away.
As soon as I heard the story, I knew I had to get rid of the nest. I didn't want anyone else getting stung, and when I finally made my trip to the dump, I didn't want to be shoveling out angry wasps. I'm sure you can understand.
One thing I've learned over the years is that the best time to attack a wasp or hornet nest is at night. First of all, they are all gathered at the nest at night and so you can kill all of them. Secondly, they aren't active and you have less chance of being stung. Larry Sagers, the late guru from the Utah State Extension Service always said to wear protective clothing and to use a flashlight with the light covered in red cellophane or something red that the light will shine through. The reason being is that these insects cannot see red light. That being said, with today's long reaching wasp sprays, some that spray as far as twenty feet, I have sprayed wasps in the past with and without protective clothing and in the middle of the day. It's not something I recommend, but it's easier than finding red cellophane on the spur of the moment.
Unfortunately for me, I had to know where the nest was before I could spray it. I thought it might be under the trailer and so I looked around, but could find nothing. Then I saw some of them flying out of the bed, out from under the fireworks box. I sprayed where I saw them entering and exiting, but the nest had to have been somewhere up inside and unreachable. I decided that I would light the box on fire. I put a wasp trap out and waited until the next day to put my arson skills to work. That morning, I checked the trap and there was at least a dozen wasps inside of it. So far, so good. Reduce their numbers and you have less of a chance of getting severely stung. That evening, I watched the Olympics, waiting for it to get dark. I was also waiting for events that I'm not particularly thrilled with to come on the Olympic programming. I wouldn't want to miss important track and field opening heats, for example. It would be much better to miss gymnastics or diving gold medal competition.
Finally it got dark and I went outside with my charcoal lighter fluid and a box of matches. I had placed the hose strategically nearby, just in case the fire began getting out of control. I was surprised at how long that cardboard took to burn, and it didn't spread very fast. I thought I was going to be there a long time waiting for all the stuff to burn. Then, the fire caught on the particle board cabinet and began raging. I let it burn for a moment or two, then decided I had better put it out before the neighbors called the fire department. I circled the trailer and realized that not all of the cardboard was burned in the area where I had seen the wasps exiting and entering. I needed to burn more, but I had just soaked the cardboard when I put out the fire. Nevertheless, I squirted some lighter fluid on it and lit it. It sputtered out. I then doused it really good and after a little sputtering, the cardboard must've begun drying and it began to burn. I waited as long as I could--as long as there was still stiff cardboard in the entry area of the nest--and then I put it out thoroughly.
The next morning I got up to see if I had been successful. There were more live wasps in the trap, so I knew that the flames hadn't reached the nest. I would need to pull that cabinet out of the bed in order to get to it. Once again, I waited until it was dark, only this time, the Olympics were too exciting, so I waited until early the following day.
No one was awake when I went outside. I just thought I could grab and end, and with a mighty pull, get that cabinet out of the trailer. I pulled and it didn't hardly move. It was heavier than I thought. I grabbed hard on the bottom and pulled with all my strength. Suddenly, the bottom ripped off and I was flying backwards, unable to keep my balance. I landed hard on my left side, hurting my hip, hurting my hand, and getting some road rash in the process. If I would have fallen just a little further backward, I may have knocked myself unconscious on the bumper of my daughter's van. Good thing I didn't because no one knew where I was.
/The trailer with the broken cabinet. You can see the bottom still on the ground from when I fell with it.
I waited a day or two to check again. My hand hurt really bad and I wanted to give it some time to heal before looking into the trailer again. When I did, I found that I had caused the cabinet to collapse enough that I could now see the entry into the nest again, and unfortunately, it was underneath the sod. Last night, I went out and coated the entire area with wasp spray (during the diving), and went to bed hoping that had done the job.
The opening to the nest is just to the right of the burn mark on the cabinet.
Unfortunately, this morning it looks like it didn't work. There are two new wasps inside the trap, and one hovering around.
There are quite a few dead wasps in this trap, and one live one at the top.
I have another trap in the back yard with hundreds of dead yellow jackets in it.
There are wasps flying in and out of the opening in the trailer. My next step will be to try and empty a bottle of lighter fluid as far into the opening as I can get it and then light it on fire.
I will need to remove the rest of this broken cabinet before proceeding. I'll do that at night too.
In the end, I will win, but it may be by getting rid of the trailer (when full, it's really too heavy for my 4runner to pull without damaging the clutch), or by waiting until it freezes, after which I'll be able to just shovel out the sod, the nest along with it. One thing I won't do is take a chance on falling again and risk bashing my head on the van without telling Ann that I'm outside removing the cabinet from the trailer. And I'm just glad that some of you weren't around when I fell, or I may have ended up on America's Funniest Home Videos or as part of a viral youtube video. At any rate, it's just another adventure and I'm excited to see how it turns out.

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