Tuesday, September 16, 2014

the enemy of my enemy is my friend

insects by the amazing gollybard
We need wasps.

You may or may not remember the family visit in July that had me running around like a maniac, quickly followed by lying on the ground in a sweaty puddle of overwhelm quickly followed by me running around like a maniac.

One of the things I did to get ready for their visit that was totally unnecessary and pretty much just designed to make myself crazy was - paint the shutters. My shutters have been - black, lilac, mint green and now lemon yellow. Taking them down is precarious business with a two story house especially since we know from previous paintings that wasps (paper wasps) have built elaborate condos and townhouses behind them.

Plus I had been attacked by yellow jackets a few day earlier and was am still suffering from PTSD.

(I am serious as a heart attack and if you do not believe me just buzz in my ear or have your phone set to vibrate go off in my presence and see what I do - I will totally embarrass myself plus I might break your phone or ... nose.)

The back of every shutter (12 total) housed 6-10 wasps. And they were quite pissed. Of course being a law-abiding landlord I had sent them all the legal notifications and was totally clear they could return home and would even have a spiffy new lemon yellow exterior for their trouble. They didn't care.

Paper moths are not usually dangerous - but if you mess with their nests, it's a whole other story. They even send out pheromones that other wasps can pick up for miles that signal "HELP, our house is on fire" and the other wasps will rush over to keep their neighbors from being evicted, probably so they don't have to move in with them.

It was not a good day - for us or the wasps. There were a few casualties, but most of us survived. To cut to the chase (and yes, my friends it was a chase) - we hung some pretend paper bag nests on the lower porch to try and discourage them from building new nests behind the freshly painted first floor shutters, but we thought they would return to the second floor shutters.

They didn't; maybe because rainy weather kept us shutter-less for over a week. I don't know where they went, but it is obvious now, they have moved on. We used to see them all the time around the yard, but we have been pretty wasp-less since mid-summer.

At first this seemed like a good thing. I didn't have to worry about them stinging Olive if she trampled one or dodging them while watering my hanging baskets - but we soon discovered a major drawback to our wasp-less state - MOSQUITOES - we are over-run! And caterpillars and spiders.

On the plus side my shutters look very bright and cheery, just don't stand outside admiring them for more than 30 seconds or you won't be.

There is a business lesson in this, too - the enemy (well, in business I guess we would say rival) - the rival of my rival in my friend. Also eco-systems are fragile (I hope Etsy is listening).  xo all

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