Monday, September 7, 2015

Friend or Foe?

A few weeks ago I noticed this hanging in one of the spruce trees closest to my garden:

Being of curious nature, but also very wary of stinging, flying insects that create their own paper to build houses with, I crept a little closer for a better look.

By standing still and watching for a few minutes, to get a good look at the creatures that flew in and out of that little hole near the bottom of the nest, I was able to determine I am the 'owner' of a bunch of bald faced hornets.

Which somewhat concerned me, being as K3 and Toad are both pretty mobile and like to play outside.  However, the nest is on the far edge of the front yard, where the grand kids so far have never gone without an adult present.

So I didn't tell anyone else about the nest right away.  Instead, I gave it some thought, and did a little research. Because I was pretty sure that as long as we left those hornets alone, they were actually something I wanted living near my garden.

What I found, upon utilizing good ol' Google, is that bald faced hornets can be considered beneficial insects.  Meaning that they prey on flies and other insects--including yellow jackets--and they pollinate flowers.  Definitely the type of critter I want helping me to have a better garden: less bugs eating my plants, and more pollination of veggie blossoms.  Oh, and the nest is closer to the orchard than it is the house, so probably my fruit trees will show positive effects from having the hornets in residence (and so far, I've noticed a marked decrease in the number of yellow jackets on the dropped fruit under those trees).

All of which means that the other members of this little place here have been instructed to NOT spray wasp killer on the nest in the spruce tree.  K3 has been shown, at a safe distance, the nest and the hornets that fly out, and told to stay away from it so she doesn't make the hornets afraid; that they won't hurt her unless she makes them afraid that she is going to hurt their house.  Toad, being just 14 months old, should not be that far away from the house without an adult, so he is still blissfully ignorant of the hornets.

Since, according to my research, the existing hornets all die going into winter, thus abandoning their nest, and old nests are never reused by new colonies of hornets, we only have to get through fall and the danger of the grand kids getting stung will be gone. Then, this winter when things are frozen and I'm sure there are no living hornets left in there, I'll go remove the nest from the tree and have a really cool item for science lessons in the future!

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