Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Do we really need to kill them?

     Monday's column on my battle to kill a wasps' nest on my porch drew a lot of reaction, but I want to share these two reader emails. They have a valid point, one that never crossed my mind. I'm still not entirely convinced: you can't have your front porch becoming a gigantic wasp colony. But definitely food for thought....

Dear Mr. Steinberg;

     I just read your article about your wasp encounter in the Monday edition of the Chicago Sun Times and would like to comment. Wasps, like many animals, are a useful part of the ecosystem. If you destroy all the wasps, many destructive insects and grubs will flourish. For example, many people hate the Japanese beetle which devastates fruit trees and numerous garden plants. In addition, if you do not disturb wasps they will not sting you. You must admit you did not know you had wasps until you saw some. They were not attacking you or your plants or pets. They were just killing insects and doing their part in improving the ecosystem. Finally, the insecticides you spray on them introduces poisons into the environment. These insecticides are often long-lasting and kill other useful insects. Many affect hormones in humans and animals.
     So my advice, next time you see wasps, just let them alone and they will do the same to you.
     Sincerely yours;
     Rich Lange

Dear Neil,

     I looked up the benefit of wasps. BBC reports that wasps eat a bunch of insects that can affect plants that are growing. But of course I understand why we are afraid of wasps. I understand your try at handling the issue. And of course, we have to thank God for your wife. I think I was stung once by a wasp, that stung several times in the same area. Not fun at all.
     We move into a natural area and then we cannot abide Nature taking up residence. Just like all those fake dear I see on lawns locally. I sure do not like them. We get rid of Nature at our peril.
     Nature, the PBS program recently had a program on predators, and what happens to an environment when a predator leaves. It started with a scientist picking up all the starfish he found locally somewhere in the world I don’t remember The whole local environment perished. Same when lions and tigers and bears and foxes are removed. Predators make a whole environment whole and lively. Just like when we depress fire because people build homes in Nature. But then we have vegetation that creates wildfires and takes those houses with the fire.
     Mother Natures gets back at us.
     Janice Gintzler

     Thanks everyone for writing.


  1. I'm sorry but expecting you, or anyone, to live with a wasp colony takes the "we're all part of Nature" concept a little too far. Part of owning a home is the ability to exclude others, and that includes insects. If Nature wants to take up residence in my home in the form of wasps, then Nature damn well better chip in on the mortgage.

  2. The only good Yellow Jacket Wasp is a dead Yellow Jacket Wasp.

  3. Let them alone and they will do the same to you? Like hell they will. Anybody who chooses to dine outdoors in August and September knows all too well what bullshit that is. The yellowjackets are especially nasty, and will get right into your face when you're eating or drinking. They like sweet things, and they really love beer. If you shoo them away, they'll come right back. The only thing to do when that happens is to try to kill them, which isn't all that easy. Unlike flies, they are not easy to swat and hit.

    Back in the days when the bleachers at Wrigley were mostly empty in September, they were especially annoying. I would pour a little puddle of beer or pop onto an empty bench and wait for the yellowjackets to land, and then I'd clock them.

    I remember one long, warm, gorgeous September afternoon. The Cubs were playing a doubleheader. By the middle of the second game, I had laid their yellow-and-black bodies out in rows. They matched the colors of the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates. They finally left me alone, after they were dead.

  4. Certainly agree with Scribe and Clark St. Spiders and bats are beneficial, too, and eat lots of other insects, etc., but I seriously doubt anyone wants spiders crawling the walls all over your house or bats in yard because they do good stuff.

  5. People in the affected groups (Catholics, Christians, white men in general, e.g.) like to say that they bear the burden of being members of the last group against whom prejudice in this society is acceptable. Evidently this attitude could be embraced by both wasps and WASPS. ; )

    But I'd need a citation or two before I'd accept Mr. Lange's assertion that "if you do not disturb wasps they will not sting you." Also a clarification as to what may qualify as a disturbance to a wasp...

    I am a bit concerned about introducing poisons into the environment, however.

  6. Better to think of the entire ecosystem and what we infuse into the atmosphere: toxins used to get rid of insects that actually were here first, probably for millennia. Besides, insects are pollinators that are under extreme duress, from the toxins used on produce we eat. Activate for regenerative agriculture, not fossil fuels infused agriculture that has given us dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, from agricultural runoff, and coated produce with pesticides.

  7. I was going to comment similarly, and glad other readers did. Thanks for publishing! "Because negative perceptions of nature can reduce motivation for its conservation, negative attitudes towards insects exacerbated by ongoing urbanization is a potential global risk for biodiversity." https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0048969721012973

  8. It is not a wasps natural habitat to live in your house. Insisting they leave is unlikely to work . Just let them stay and hope for the best?

    Any non pesticide alternatives for getting rid of them? You can't just cohabitate. MrS's house has been there over a hundred years. It's not like he moved to a new development on the edge of urbanization.
    To paraphrase Mr T hate the bugs, kill the bugs. At least the one in your house

    1. The best way to rid your house of wasps, is to open the shades & blinds on the south side of the house & close all the others. They will gravitate towards the light & stay on the window, especially if it's sunny. Then use either a portable vacuum or a vacuum with a hose & suck them up. Then spray bug killer into the vacuum & seal the suction end up with a paper towel & let them die in there. I had an infestation years ago & that got rid of them, permanently.

    2. I've found that killing flying pests in the house of any sort, wasps, flies, fruit flies, is really simple by spraying them with 91% isopropyl alcohol. I'm in a 100+ year old house in the middle of nowhere. The bugs have plenty of space outside, they can stay out of my house thank you very much.

  9. Seems like this is typical of the human race. If we don't like something we kill it. To heck with the ramifications.
    If animals don't like wasps they just move. Live and let live.
    We humans are overrated.

  10. Given the outcry, Mr. Steinberg, I suggest you invest in three hummingbird feeders. They should be around til late September, How do you feel about roaches? And, more to the point, what say you and your readers about the staggering number of rats in Chicago?

    1. Bulldog as I mentioned in an earlier comment on recent EGD post . I recently moved to a neighborhood in Chicago as well as I can determine free of rats.

      There is an enormous number of ferel cat colonies. Seemed to have wiped them out


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