There’s a Wasp in My What?

If you own a home, chances are at some point you have, or will have to get rid of a wasp nest somewhere on your home or property. It isn’t all that fun, but at least when you can see the darn thing, you can come at it with a spray can of Raid at night and kill the buggars.  But what about when you suddenly notice the damn things are flying around your house, and there’s no sign of a nest? That happened to us the other day, when I was pressure washing the side of our house on a fine, warm fall day. I hit a corner of the house where the bowed out area for our patio door meets the house again. Suddenly I noticed dozens and dozens of wasps everywhere, and they’re all flying behind the inside corner strip at the top, right by the soffit. Seriously? So I do what every sane woman does in a situation like this: holler for my husband. Yeah that worked well. He didn’t have any better idea of what to do than I did, except to wait for dark.

Well, we got a can of Raid and waited, and tried to listen in the walls to see if we could figure out more precisely where they were, but no luck. We weren’t even sure if spraying up by the soffit would work. THEN we did a little Internet research and stumbled on what is turning out to be a cheap and ingenious solution to the problem. It needs just a few things most homeowners already have at thier disposal: A shop vac, a ladder, some tape or velcro, and either water and dishsoap, or bleach.

  1. Put a few inches of water and a bit of soap in the shop vac. Make sure your filter is in place, and the exhaust port uncovered. ALTERNATIVELY you can put a few inches of bleach in the shop vac, no soap is needed.
  2. If you have rigid extension tubes for the shop vac, connect as many together as you can (we used 4), then connect your shop vac tubing.
  3. Rig it up to a ladder with tape or velcro. Get the nozzle of the shop vac right up where the wasps are going in.
  4. Plug in the vac and turn in on.
  5. Sit back, watch ’em get sucked in and die.

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The first day we did it, we ran the shop vac for maybe 3 hours total. I’m running it a second day as there are still more wasps, although it’s slowed way down now. The goal is to get all the drones out, and eventually the queen will come out as well. When she does, your work is done.  You can plug up the area, but it’s my understanding that a new queen won’t move into an old nest.

Something to be aware of, if you do use bleach, you’ll get wasp soup. Bleach, as you might recall from high school science class, is sodium hypocholorite, and it does in fact, dissolve organic things like wasps, and rather quickly. So we aren’t too sure how many we actually caught, because by the time we took the cover off the shop vac maybe an hour after we turned it off, they were already dissolving. As a precaution, if you turn it off, make sure you disconnect the hose and COVER the opening, because if there are live wasps remaining they will fly out.  I think most of the wasps died right away, so we probably would not have needed to wait an hour.

(There are many videos about this on YouTube, so so need to add one from us.)

Unfortunately, as we walked around the house we noticed the little suckers busily trying to build new nests in a few other places. So we’ve done our best to hit those spots with the Raid, in hopes of driving them out before they’ve gotten too cozy.  I know one of the spots seemed to have a queen inspecting it, and I think we did get her, so perhaps we’ve dodged on bullet. I’m not entirely convinced we’ve dodged them all so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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A Trip to the Twilight Zone

Several years ago, my husband brought a proposal for a trip to witness an event to my attention, and at the time I really didn’t think he was all that serious about it. Fast forward to a few months ago when he brought up the topic again, and it was readily apparent to me I’d significantly underestimated his interest in this event, so we began planning how we might be able to be among those who watched the 2017 Solar Eclipse, and in August we took a road trip down to Columbia, Missouri for the big show. We are terribly fortunate, my husband’s brother and his wife live there, so we were able to stay with them, and his nieces were in the process of moving from Florida to Jefferson City which is about 30 minutes south of Columbia. One was there already and was gracious enough to let us stay with her for the first two nights in spite of the fact that she didn’t even have towels or pillows unpacked yet, items we were happy enough to bring along. (Thanks Mary!!)

The trip down was mostly good, up until the last half hour before Jefferson City, when we hit a heck of a rain storm. Suddenly our long drive got even longer, when hubby had to slow WAY down just to see the road. Fortunately that didn’t last terribly long, and after winding our way on a curvy, hilly road in the dark, we got to Joanna and Mary’s house, a couple of weary travelers stumbling out of the car and into an unexpected wall of warm humidity. Yeah, that wasn’t planned for at all, after all that time in an air conditioned car and we were instantly dripping wet. Fortunately his nieces’ house had AC, so we were quite comfy inside. What we didn’t realize is that Missouri is known for it’s humidity, and the air conditioners go on May 1, and don’t go off until the end of October. The other thing we didn’t know, is that there are armadillos in Missouri…yep, you read that correctly, armadillos. We saw a couple of dead ones on the road, and fortunately other drivers hit them, not us, as I’ve heard they can do some awful damage to your car. I guess it’s because they have this weird startle reflex causing them to jump straight up in the air…so when cars drive over them, they jump up, and that lovely armored shell causes all kinds of damage to the undercarriages of cars. Ugh.

Sunday morning we headed up to Columbia, where we had the unique experience of attending church where my husband’s brother is the pastor. It’s not an ordinary church, but rather is an international church on the campus of Baptist University. There were attendees from a number of different countries and cultures there, so his brother is kind of acting as a missionary right here in the United States. His wife teaches Sunday School to the children, and she said it can be really interesting as some of the children don’t speak any English at all. She finds she has to be creative, and uses lots of crafts to teach the kids. Look out on glitter Sundays!

Monday dawned, and was the big event. We set up our lawn chairs and waited, then watched in dismay as hazy clouds started to fill the sky. Apparently this isn’t an unusual phenomenon with eclipses, as the moon begins to cross in front of the sun and the temperature drops, it causes clouds to form. So on top of the partly cloudy sky we already had, we got more haze blocking our view. We did get to experience and see the eclipse, and while it wasn’t nearly as good as some parts of the country, I can’t really fuss because back home in Minnesota, I understand it rained all day and where they were hoping for a partial, they got nothing so I really shouldn’t whine.

The experience – now that was something else. While I can’t say the four of us were moved to tears or were overwhelmed, like some folks seem to have been, it certainly was an awesome and amazing sight. IMG_9633Perhaps if the sky had been clear it would have been different for us, but the sun/moon were periodically disappearing and reappearing behind clouds, so we had less than the 2 min of viewing the corona that a lot of others got. (I want a do-over!) It was beautiful, eerie, and kind of otherworldly. My husband and I took some photos that unfortunately were also a bit on the hazy side. The thing that was weird though, is that it got dark out, but not as dark as I thought it would. IMG_9651The light that remained literally made you feel like you were in the Twilight Zone, and then all of a sudden it was done, the sun peeked out, warmth came back and the haze disappeared.
We also got a few photos on the “exit” side. You’ll note that the sun looks orange, which is more from the color of the filter covering the lens of the camera than anything.

So would I travel again to see an eclipse? You’d better believe it! They happen about every 18 months somewhere in the world. There are total, annular and partial eclipses. I’d never heard of an annular eclipse before and had to look that one up. That’s when there is a ring of the sun that is still visible, where the moon isn’t quite covering all of the sun. In that case you can’t remove the protective glasses at all. It’s like having a “ring of fire” in the sky. I think that would be interesting, but not nearly as much fun as a total eclipse. So who knows, maybe we’ll plan some around the world vacations around the coming total eclipses. There are a couple that go over Australia, and I’ve always wanted to go there. Can you imagine what a trip that would be? Dive the great barrier reef, visit New Zealand AND see a total eclipse? Truly a trip of a lifetime for us. Have you gone anywhere that you considered your “trip of a lifetime”? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.