Saturday, July 31, 2010

Outdoor Gardening: The Heebie Jeebies

When my husband and I talk about welcoming insect life into our garden we are usually thinking of something like this:

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and Buddleia davidii cv.

We are also open to seeing something like this:

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun' with unidentified spider. (Yes, I know that spiders aren't insects. Bear with me here.)

What we definitely didn't have in mind is this:

Bald-faced hornet (Dolichovespula maculata) nest hidden in our Weigela florida 'Red Prince' shrub row. If you enlarge the picture, you can see a few actual hornets. I do not necessarily recommend this.

The thing was the size of a soccer ball, and shall we say, buzzing with activity. What frightens me is that last week, before we noticed the nest, I was weeding nearby. At one point I nearly lost my balance when pulling up a particularly recalcitrant thistle. Had I actually fallen backward, there is a good chance I would have fallen into the nest. I'll let you know when I stop shuddering.

Needless to say, we called professionals to have the nest removed.


Julie said...

OMG! What a scary thought! So glad you found it and had it removed! Your other insects are quite lovely!!!

CelticRose said...

Yikes! Glad you caught your balance! *shudder*

My Little Family: said...

I was "thinning" my jungle strip around the pool a couple weeks ago and grabbed a giant white bird of paradise leaf that had a wasp nest attached tothe underside. They quickly came looking for the intruder. Luckily my fall was into the pool :)

Emily said...

Eww! Although once the hornets are out, those nests can be sold on eBay to artists or naturalists. :) I know this as I am an artist who has bought a mud wasp nest on eBay before!

CactusMcHarris said...


Very happy that you avoided the mishap. We have hornets too and I've very nearly done as you nearly did. Only the shovel behind me stopped me from plunging face-first into their abobe.

Candy "Sweetstuff" said...

Wow I have never seen such a large hornet's nest. I am so glad they did not get you. I would not like to be an exterminator. They can sting multiple times I think! Yikes!

Karen715 said...

Thanks, everyone. I'm taking a sympathetic sigh of relief for all who have had near-misses with such things, along with another such sigh for myself.

@Emily: While I can see something objectively lovely being made from such a nest, knowing its origins would keep me in a constant state of the willies.

The exterminator took it away with him. And since he had previously stabbed it (with 20 ft pole) and sprayed the hell out of it, there would have been nothing usable to work with. It looked quite flattened when he bagged it up. I watched all of this through the window, safely indoors.