Helping wasps go to a better place

The other day, I discovered an enormous wasp nest (about 14″ in diameter) in a tree next to my house:

The next morning, Google helped me discover Dan Scollard, who comes out to remove wasps from homes, humanely “sends them to sleep” in a cooler full of dry ice, then donates them to a lab that extracts the venom for use in allergy shots. (!)

When he arrived, he said, “Oh, that’s a beauty. A lot of people say they found a nest as big as a basketball, but yours actually IS.”

My nest was constructed and occupied by the bald-faced hornet (which apparently is actually a wasp). Dan told me all about this wasp; he has a real admiration for them. I highly recommend reading about their life cycle and also viewing Dan’s photo gallery! These wasps are a useful part of nature, but risky to have next to your door where you (or unwitting visitors) could be suddenly attacked. Apparently this wasp can be quite aggressive and territorial.

Dan put on all of his gear, then vacuumed up all of the wasps around the nest, waited a bit for more wasps to come home from hunting, did a second vacuuming pass, and clipped the nest from the branch to remove it. He said it would hang it in his backyard so the queen (who had not emerged) could “live out the rest of her days in peace.” He said I could hold the nest with its lurking queen: gosh wow!

Me holding a wasp nest

What an amazing experience! It’s a joy to meet knowledgeable people who love their subject and use their knowledge to do good in the world. I’m much happier sending these wasps out to help people avoid severe reactions, and the process was so much better than dousing the nest with poison. Thank you, Dan!

1 Comment
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  1. jim said,

    August 20, 2023 at 4:14 pm

    (Learned something new!)

    That is simultaneously alarming that you found such a large wasp next, but also great to hear that there was a viable solution in Dan. (And the look on your face is similar to what I’d feel holding it as far away as possible.) Fascinating lifecycle. There are passive traps that use a slice of deli meat as “bait.”

    My neighbors, out of concern for their grandkid, just took out an underground (bee?) nest using four cans of projectile doom … near my apple tree.

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