Ask a Question forum: Gardens near homes and wasps nest

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Montreal
cshahar
Dec 18, 2017 2:15 PM CST
Hi Everyone:

I am a photographer who specializes in macro photography. I usually go to the local botanical gardens to photograph bees, wasps and assorted other insects. I finally bought my own home, and I have been thinking, why not plant some of the same plants that are particularly artistic and likely to attract my favorite tiny critters, such as certain types of thistle, and milkweed, among others. I would love to get visits from local wasps. My question though is whether they will eventually try to build a nest near the garden? Or is there any other type of damage I might experience? I can only imagine how my neighbors would feel about such an eventuality. This might not be an appropriate forum for such questions, or maybe the question is silly on the face of it. Can anyone provide me with opinions?

Thank you,

-Charles
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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stone
Dec 18, 2017 3:40 PM CST
I took these pics a coupla months ago...

Thumb of 2017-12-18/stone/8ada3e
The wasp nest on my screen door.

Thumb of 2017-12-18/stone/1a9842
wasp hunting caterpillars on passionvine.

The short answer...
the wasps build nests in suitable locations.

At my house, i went in and out the screen door 50 times a day, and the wasps ignored me.
the cats jumped up on the ledge between the screen door and the main door... wasps ignored them too.

The main thing is to know where they are... and act respectful.

If worst comes to worst, the nest can be easily dislodged in the evening (after dark), and the wasps will not bother you... and probably won't build in that location again that summer.

When I painted my house, I had some windows leaning against the house... after I moved the windows, I spotted the nests (on the window) Unfortunately, the poor wasps couldn't find their way back to where I moved the nest!!

They often build a nest in the pear tree... I can't find that picture... again, it isn't a problem.
Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Dec 18, 2017 3:49 PM CST
Hi Charles, Welcome!
Congratulations on the purchase of your new home! I think it's a wonderful idea to plant a Pollinator Garden to help Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Wasps and other insects! As for bees or wasps building nests near or on your property ... well, critters will be critters and may decide to take up residence near their food source but I wouldn't be too concerned. I was stung by a bumblebee or wasp (don't remember which) as a youngster and had a fear of bees and wasps for a very long time but I've been gardening for 50 years now and have never been stung again. I try to plant things that will attract bees and butterflies to the garden! I've learned that they aren't aggressive and won't bother humans as long as we don't do something to irritate them (like swat at them.) Smiling I've had large bumble bees buzzing about as I've worked in my garden and they haven't bothered me. We've had wasps build nests beneath the eave of the house on occasion and we've left them alone since they haven't been aggressive ... they seem to be around for awhile and then move on ... to I don't know where, at which time we knock down the nests. Smiling

That being said, if you have children in the home who might be allergic to bee or wasp stings ... well, that's another story and you may want to be cautious.

Near the bottom of this page, there is a list of a few natives for attracting pollinators to your Canadian garden: http://www.beesmatter.ca/

And, links to a few of them in our database where you will find photos and growing information:
Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)
Plains Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)
New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
Helen's Flower (Helenium autumnale)
Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

We do have members here who reside in Canada so hopefully someone will pop in and be of more assistance with suggestions.
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Maintenance of Perennial Beds.
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SunnyBorders
Dec 18, 2017 5:04 PM CST
I've certainly spent many happy hours deadheading tall perennials, like culver's roots, while surrounded by bees such as honeybees and bumblebees. As working companions, they do their thing and me mine.

Working in the middle of social wasps, such as yellow jackets, would be an entirely different matter. I realize the horticultural value of many solitary wasps, but have always experienced little routine contact with them. I can't imagine wanting yellow jackets around in late summer and fall, but if you want lots (here at least) get a neighbour (as we have) who has a decrepit apple tree and leaves rotting fruit lying around.

There's wasps and there's wasps.
[Last edited by SunnyBorders - Dec 19, 2017 2:16 PM (+)]
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Montreal
cshahar
Dec 18, 2017 6:49 PM CST
Thank you all. I have spent many hours surrounded by bees and wasps and have never felt threatened. However, the question is whether i want them around my house. I can always try it for a year and see what happens! Here is a sample of my photographic work: bee & thistle:

Thumb of 2017-12-19/cshahar/7b3933

[Last edited by cshahar - Dec 18, 2017 6:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

Region: United States of America Deer Region: Florida Charter ATP Member Million Pollinator Garden Challenge I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Procrastinator Birds Butterflies Bee Lover Hummingbirder Container Gardener
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plantladylin
Dec 18, 2017 7:01 PM CST
Beautiful shot! Thumbs up
~ Playing in the dirt is my therapy ... and I'm in therapy a lot! ~


Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Dec 18, 2017 7:15 PM CST
There are wasps that are aggressive, and those that are not. Those paper wasps like to build their nests on structures and can be very aggressive. I spray their nests because they (A) run the birds off the hummingbird feeders, and (B) don't help pollination, but do chew holes in blooms. They don't usually sting unless their nest seems to be threatened, but threat is a relative term, and may depend on season.
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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stone
Dec 19, 2017 8:59 AM CST
Personally, I don't want poison around me....

Very easy to simply dislodge the nest at night when the wasps are asleep.

Never saw wasps chewing holes in flowers..... I will admit to seeing them peeling wood off fence posts...

While I have been stung when operating a string trimmer too close to a yellow jacket's nest, the simple solution.... Don't run lawn mowers and string trimmers!

I used to light a brush fire at night on top of a garden bed that had a yellow jacket nest..... A couple of fires and it just broke my heart.... So much easier to live with them... Once I find the nest, it's very easy to give them a few feet of space... Really doesn't require that much room.... I can stand over the nest.... And they will fly home between my legs... They're not that aggressive.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
Dec 19, 2017 10:34 AM CST
Good for you for being concerned before moving forward! And congratulations on your new home!

I can echo what others have said but I'd like to add that there are some wasps that nest inside walls. It's a bad problem if you like having smoke detectors that work. They can sometimes crawl into them and set them off. I've had several visits from the fire department before realizing what caused them.

The main way to prevent that from happening is to make sure each year before nesting season begins that the areas around your doors and windows are sealed. Caulking is great for this. Spraying is awful. Without discussing the pros and cons of using sprays, the fact is that if you spray any entrance or exit point, it just drives the nesting wasps farther into your walls.

Another one to watch out for is the grass carrying wasp: They're VERY cool to watch as they build their nests, but they often will do so where your window meets your siding.

There are plants that repel specific creatures that you can put around places where you wouldn't want them to nest such as windows and mailboxes.

And just in case you don't know of them yet, you might like to check out this site where you can purchase milkweed plants or seeds (or get seeds for free!) and help them to distribute same for free! I think you can even get monarch larvae or catapillers there too: https://www.livemonarch.com/fr...

I hope you'll update us as you move forward! Lovey dubby
AKA Joey.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
Dec 19, 2017 4:54 PM CST
I can recommend some plants I have:
Goldenrod (blooms late fall)
Garlic chives (blooms August for me)
Parsley, fennel, and assorted relatives (various summer blooms on biennial plants)

These are very popular with many various friendly wasps and flies, that will sit nicely while you focus. I have never had any wasp "problems" and grown these for many years. Hornets and yellow jackets don't use these much.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Montreal
cshahar
Dec 19, 2017 8:35 PM CST
This has been very educational! I am still thinking over whether I would like to have wasp nests around my home. I don't mind sharing space, but being cautious about how I approach certain parts of my home does not sound particularly relaxing. Thank you for the plant suggestions and milkweed seed resources! I will look them up. Actually, the plants I am interested in have a certain "look" on a macro (meaning micro) level. Green plants are much less interesting than white, pink or yellow plants. Thistles are particularly lovely because they look like exploding plants (see my pic above). But again thank you for all the information and support!!!

-Charles
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
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Zuni
Dec 19, 2017 10:27 PM CST
I have never met a wasp that was nice to me. And I just go about my business. So, I am not a wasp lover. I would never encourage them to live near me. In fact, even in my apartment building with a balcony, I was not able to control them this last summer and had to ask management to use the professional pest guy to spray an area they simply would not give up on where they kept trying to build a nest, even though I constantly sprayed them with ammonia to try to stop them from building their nest there.

The pest guy discouraged me from using wasp traps, because they attract wasps, and they were being aggressive towards me on my balcony with my dog. He said, if I put wasp traps up, more wasps will be constantly flying around my balcony. I told him to go for it, as far as whatever he could use to deal with them, not caring if what he did was organic. Just make them go somewhere else!

Now, bees are a different story. I've never had a bee come at me like it was protecting it's territory. They have always just been busy with their own business - gathering pollen and moving along.

So, what you could do, is go ahead and plant things that attract pollinators, then you can put up wasp traps to specifically get rid of wasps if they become a problem. I'd put the traps up far enough away from your home/deck/balcony, etc., to pull them away from your normal living space.

Man, I can remember some even when I had a small acreage in WA state that we called bald faced wasps. They hung around my pig pen where I raised weaner pigs, to get their water and get mud for their nests, if I remember correctly. They attacked me and my dog and my poor little pigs! Mean little suckers.

Did I say I don't like wasps? LOL.

I also haven't seen a lot of evidence in my own life that wasps are interested in pollinating. I suppose there must be some, but the ones I've ever known were more like carnivorous scavengers. My understanding is that they often attack bee colonies, too.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Dec 19, 2017 11:59 PM CST
I have gardened around wasps, and bees, my entire life and have only been stung three times.

With wasps, and the same for bees, if you are afraid of them and swat at them when you think they are too close, you will eventually get stung.
With rare exceptions , leave them alone and they will leave you alone.
Ground hornets though do not like the sound of gasoline powered equipment, for what ever reason.
If you have to mow near their nest, move quickly. They will not chase you.
Killer bees, that is an entirely different story and the temperament of these buggers may differ in different parts of the country.
We had a nest of the real, real big bumbles up here this summer and if you are sitting and they fly close to you, you will hear them.
Even though they are harmless, it still sends a "damn that thing is big" hair raiser briefly in your mind.
[Last edited by RpR - Jan 10, 2018 7:17 PM (+)]
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Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
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joannakat
Dec 20, 2017 12:23 AM CST
RpR said:
We had a nest of the real, real big bumbles up here this summer and if you are sitting and they fly close to you, you will hear them.
Even though they are harmless, it still sends a "damn that thing is big" hair raiser briefly in your mind.


LOL, you can see how I feel about those things by my avatar. Green Grin!
AKA Joey.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Native Plants and Wildflowers Region: Mid-Atlantic Composter Region: Maryland Birds
Cat Lover Dog Lover Region: United States of America
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sallyg
Dec 20, 2017 6:27 AM CST
I really, really think that what you choose to plant will have a negligible effect on whether any wasps or bees make nests and cause trouble.
..come into the peace of wild things..-Wendell Berry
Life is a buffet (anon)
Montreal
cshahar
Dec 20, 2017 8:53 AM CST
Really Sally? Because people are starting to scare me!

-Charles
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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Leftwood
Dec 20, 2017 1:19 PM CST
Someone here has in their signature line at the bottom of every post of theirs:
The less I interfere, the more balance mother nature provides.

When I first moved into my house, it was quite a sterile environment, very typical of suburban homes owned by non-gardeners. Early mornings were silent, there were no birds singing! (This was very unnerving for me, since I grew up in a natural wooded area.) And wasps loved to build nests under the eaves of my house.

Being the gardener that I am, I try to work with nature, rather than against it. I fuss very little about a bug eating some leaves, a weed in my lawn, etc. And I am very happy with the results and the very little work it requires.

I think once you begin to diversify your plantings, not necessarily trying to attract any particular insect specifically (but beneficial insects in general), other problems will mitigate or disappear altogether. No wasps ever nest under my eaves anymore, but they do still visit my plants and flowers. Hummingbirds nest in my yard - they go to the neighbors' feeders, and then come to my yard for real food from my flowers.

Yes, the flowers touted as bee attractants certainly are that. But if your aim is to sustain the pollinator population in general, I would plant for pollinator food that is available when it is sparse.... the very early spring. Things like crocus, winter aconite, corydalis species, pussywillow species, pasque flowers, hepatica, buttercups, chiondoxa, scilla, hellebores, epimediums, etc.
Montreal
cshahar
Dec 20, 2017 1:39 PM CST
Thank you! As a macro photographer I look at the aesthetic quality of plants. I checked images of all the ones you list, and the hellebores really excite me. Are they strong attractors for pollinating insects?
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN, USA zon
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Hybridizer
Seed Starter Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
Image
Leftwood
Dec 20, 2017 1:59 PM CST
What you need to remember about early spring is the low temperature. Everything grows at a slower rate, and so does the pollen. Insects are really active only in the warm part of the day. Would I say helebores are particularly strong attractors? No. I would say average. I see more activity on corydalis, buttercups and crocus (when they bloom), but the hellebore flowers are much longer lived.
Name: Joanna
North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
Life & gardens: make them beautiful
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Vermiculture
Image
joannakat
Dec 20, 2017 2:05 PM CST
Just a word about crocus--out my way, they never make it much past the bud stage. We have a lot of wild bunnies and they seem to consider them part of a lovely buffet! Thumbs down
AKA Joey.

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