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MSU Extension Service

Home Grown is an educational, entertaining, question-answer column seen weekly in "News from the Genesee MSUE Office," a weekly newsletter for Genesee County Master Gardeners. Special thanks to the Genesee, Oakland and Livingston county MSU Extension offices for providing this service.

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This week's HomeGrown

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I have terrible bee or wasp problems. All I know is that they are black and yellow. Some are in the ground and I got stung mowing by them. More are in a crack in the siding by my front door. I canít stand this anymore; so how do I get them to go away?

You donít get them to go away. You get them dead. These are wasps of one sort of another. Yellow jackets, European paper wasps and bald-faced hornets are all wasps. Itís a big family, but you treat them all the same. The weapon is five percent Sevin Garden Dust. The chemical name is carbaryl. The assassination time is evening when it dark enough that you can just barely see. Having a cool evening would be a double advantage. Wasps have no night vision and youíre using this as your tactical advantage in this battle. The approach to their encampment will be in stealth mode. Silence, quiet movements and no flashlights are required. Youíre aiming for the Lightning Strike attack. For the wasps in the soil, dust the Sevin over their holes. Then, gently toss a shovel of moist soil over the Sevin. Retreat rapidly. The next day, examine the area from a respectful distance. If you see wasps or holes in the new soil, go for a second night of Sevin bombing. Many times, one treatment is all thatís required. For the wasps by the front door, the weapon and the timing are the same. The attack is different. The wasps are not directly behind the crack, so spraying them is ineffective. You could use an old turkey baster to foof the dust into the crack. When they exit in the morning, they will pick up the Sevin on their legs and bodies. Sevin is very deadly to bees and wasps. If the turkey baster doesnít fit the job, you could make a funnel out of paper and pour the Sevin in the crack. Or, it might be possible to place a cement block with a board on top directly below the hole. You have created a landing strip for takeoffs and landings. Dust liberally with Sevin. Those with dust on them will drag it into the wall and back to the nest, killing the rest of the battalion. Letís also talk about the paper football-shaped nests, too. The night timing is the same but the weapon of choice is one of the aerosol wasp sprays that spray ten to twenty feet. Spray the hole at the bottom of the nest. A hasty retreat is good. You do not have to take down the nest after the wasps are dead because this will never be used again by anyone or anything. Note from General Patton: only kill wasps if they are a threat to people or pets. Wasps kill a great number of harmful insects and can be valuable. Determine their risk before destroying them. Donít be a hawk; think semi-dove.

Should I get a soil test for my problem? I have hydroseeded a lawn area around my future house five times this summer. Nothing has grown, other than weeds. I donít have a way of watering it yet and am depending on rain but itís rained a bunch.

Somebody doesnít have a rain gauge. Yes, weíve had some rain, but to get seeds to germinate and grow, you need a constant, steady source of moisture. Did it rain every day this summer? Did it stay consistently moist? I believe that answer is ďno and no.Ē It is almost impossible to start a lawn during the summer, especially without water. There is probably nothing wrong with the soil because weed germination proved it. Weeds also can get by with much less water than grass. Thatís why we call them weeds. More bad news: when the house is built, there will be more destruction of the future lawn area. Wait until the builders, trucks and trash are gone and you have water. The two best times are mid August to mid September and mid April to mid May. Save time and save money. Wait until you can do this right.

Gretchen Voyle, MSU Extension-Livingston County Horticulture
Agent 517/546-3950


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