I’d unlocked the car, hit the control for the garage door opener, started the car and was backing up when I noticed a large black irregular circle high on the wall to the right of my kitchen door. I scrunched my eyes and looked hard—willing my eyesight to improve enough to make out just what it was. In past years I’d had clumps of thousands of Daddy Long Legs—perhaps a foot wide and two feet long solid pile of DLL’s that extended two or three inches out from the wall. Seen from a distance, they looked like huge moles; but if you touched them, the solid mass would shatter immediately into thousands of DLL’s scurrying off in every direction possible. Yet the DLL’s had never clustered in this spot and it looked like a much smaller clump. Late as I was, I couldn’t stand it. I had to go look. This is what I found:
Tiny black wasps building their nest.
Recent high winds had blown down the lamp in my gazebo and I’d noticed the wasp nest high up in the pointed top of the ceiling had been knocked down also. Obviously, this is where they’d decided to relocate. Most of the crew was just hanging out in a clump while a few dozen hard workers were constructing the incredible paper hive out of their own bodily juices.
As a reformed papermaker, I’m intrigued by the process. I love having them so close, yet fear if I let them build it so near the main door I use to enter the house, that it will create problems later. I’ve had hives around the property the entire 12 years I’ve been here and they’ve never created a problem. They stay high up and near their hive and I’ve never been stung or even buzzed by the black wasps. One year they built their nest on the outside of my hall window, so I could see into it!!! It was near a door I never used and between the window bars and the glass, so it was very protected. I absolutely loved it, as every time I walked down the hall to and from my bedroom, I could look in and see them cuddled into the internal chambers. Unfortunately, I came home from a 2 month vacation at the beach to discover my vacation renters had had Pasiano remove the nest! I was heartbroken.
Now the dilemma is: should I have Pasiano smoke them out and knock down the nest tomorrow before they invest any more time in building it, or do I let it remain, knowing I’ll have to have it removed when a friend deathly afraid of wasps visits me in a few months? I love the feeling of sharing this property with so many different types of wildlife: squirrels, snakes, possums, skunks, lizards, toads, dragonflies, moths, katydids, rhinoceros beetles, leaf-eater ants, rainbirds, praying mantises, walking sticks, butterflies, dragonflies, grackles, orioles, thrushes, seedeaters, bats, an owl, huge solitary red wasps and the fiercely social small black wasps. The problems only come when their needs conflict with mine. The squirrels ate every papaya on my tree this year. The possums stealing catfood leftovers often occasion loud midnight fits of barking by the dogs. Coming out to find my entire plumeria tree stripped of leaves and flowers overnight and my studio with 6 inch high piles of soil and stones they had carried up and deposited there to clear their tunnels meant waging a war on the leafcutters—something necessary; but yet I hated to do it. I love watching them—the cutter ants high in the bush or tree sawing the leaves off and letting them fall to the ground, where other workers saw off smaller pieces and load up for the trip back to the nest. If the smaller ants confront a problem on the rocky road to home, huge general ants come out to advise and help. Chains of busy ants form a freeway from the harvesting site to the nest.
But scorpions? Sorry. My curiosity only goes so far. Black widows and scorpions can expect the death penalty in my house.
Nearly 3 AM and I still don’t know what my decision will be concerning the wasps. I welcome your advice.