Unfortunately, wasps love the summer as much as I do.
I had childhood run-ins with all kinds of wasps-hornets, mud-wasps, paper wasps, and wasps of unknown origin. I actually bled from a yellowjacket attack on a hiking trip when I was 11. I learned to hate them.
And they apparently hate me back.
Early this summer, I discovered a little papery wasp nest inside my Weber grill when I was preparing to kick off grilling season. I shooed Jasper and Emilie, 10, inside and was able to scoop the nest into a plastic bag and heave it into the garbage cans by the driveway. I boiled hot dogs for the kids on the stove.
A couple of wasps were still buzzing around the grill a few days later, until my husband hit the whole thing with a long-range wasp spray. Effective, perhaps, but definitely toxic as well. Three guesses who had to clean that up later.
In July, yellowjackets closed down the outdoor pool at the Y. The wasps had burrowed themselves into the ground next to the pool patio. Someone innocently stepped on that patch of earth and set them swarming. One little girl was actually stung underwater; she jumped into the pool to get away from the yellowjackets but one held on, stinging her knee.
The pool was shut down for the rest of the afternoon, and the Y called an exterminator to deal with the wasps. I can't say I'm that excited to know that they probably bombed the area around the pool with pesticide.
The final straw came at the pitch-n-putt. Golf is a sport I love and truly a great activity for little girls; I'm delighted that Emilie has been enjoying learning to hit balls. I bought cans of lemonade for us, set Emilie up with her own balls on the green, and helped Jasper "putt" with his little plastic putter.
I took a drink of lemonade, and was struck with horror. Something fuzzy was moving in my mouth! I spit the whole mouthful of lemonade into the grass, along with a soggy yellowjacket. I saw that there were 4 or 5 of them on my lemonade can; while I watched one of them crawled inside.
I was horrified. My heart was pounding, fight versus flight hormones in full effect. I snatched Emilie and Jasper's cans and threw them away. And then I realized the answer was right in front of me.
The wasps were after the lemonade. They love lots of the same sugary drinks we associate with picnics and summery outdoor activity.
So I've solved my wasp problem by giving the little aggressors exactly what they wanted all along. Of course, others have realized this before me, and there are lots of natural wasp control options that incorporate sugary liquids and other things wasps like to eat into inexpensive wasp traps.
I have one of these traps in our backyard all the time now. It draws any wasps in the area towards it and away from us, and I have absolutely no guilt in letting the wasps commit sugary suicide. I don't have to go hunting for nests. I'm not endangering the kids, the planet, or any other insects with pesticides or other chemicals. I'm not paying an exterminator. And most importantly, I'm not letting the wasps drive us indoors for the rest of the summer.