It's summer and of course, some wasps found a new home in my garden tool shed. I'm not actually hostile towards these insects, since they are a natural pest control, but since I need to access that shed occasionally and don't want to get stung while doing so, they need to go.
So the discussion started in the family, on what would be the best method to accomplish this. The safest choice would of course be calling the pest exterminator, but thats a bit expensive. I'd certainly do it for a large nest, but for small, fist-sized ones, there should be a do it yourself way for removing them.
Poison is the classic gardeners solution, but besides being poisonous and therefore potentially unhealthy, it's also a hassle to pick the right brand for the right price. I mean, just try to get a decent purchase advice at the store. Chances are, you either end up with a generic and relatively harmless insect spray, which assumes, that it's ok, if the bug dies some time in the next half an hour after being sprayed, or "Killex - Death in a can".
I really don't feel like experimenting with several products. What I actually want, is a cheap, and environmental safe way to get rid of the wasps without getting stung.
My solution? Say hello to biology 101: Wasps don't survive in winter. What makes winter in summer? Right, Ice-spray! Using cold does not only not leave any toxic residue behind, it's also natural enough to not raise an alarm of an attack inside the nest.
As an additional benefit, ice-spray is also rather cheap with about 3€ per can and a versatile household item, so left overs are less likely to go to waste.
The stuff can be bought at most hardware or electronics stores. Medical suppliers usually also carry it for treating athletic injuries, though I would recommend buying at a hardware store. Ice-spray for medical purposes is usually more expensive and less cooling.
Ok, let's talk procedure then. Simply waltzing up to the nest, armed with a can of ice-spray is probably not the best course of action. Proper safety gear and a battle plan is still a must. Make sure to have the following available:
- One can of ice-spray, the colder, the better. Preferably use one with a pipe extension on the nozzle, so you can keep some distance and pierce the outer wall of the nest.
- Safety goggles, working gloves, thick clothes and a scarf to protect yourself.
- A flashlight and a shovel or dustpan.
- An escape way and a friend/family member as backup, in case something goes horribly wrong.
The best time to destroy the wasp nest is either in the early morning before sunrise or the late evening after sunset, when it is dark and naturally cool. Wasps do not fly at that time of the day. If you startle one anyway, use the flashlight to lure it away from the nest (remember: insects are attracted by light). Put it down on the ground and use the shovel to kill it at a safe distance. Never kill one in the direct vicinity of the nest. A smashed wasp will release pheromones, which act as alarm signals.
Apply the ice-spray generously to the nest surface first, to cool it down. Then either pierce through the wall (wasp nests are like paper), if your can has a pipe extension or spray through the entrance hole at the bottom. Chances are, that the nest will fall apart being treated like this. If not, help along with the shovel. Once it falls to the ground, use the shovel to properly smash it. The ice-spray alone will likely only immobilize the insects, but not necessarily kill them.
Update: Seems like the ants were delighted about the remains. Now, how do I get rid of the ants?!