Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fixing the Wasp Problem behind the refrigerator

The annual startup of the whole Bee, wasp, spider cycle has begun. I saw a few of each the other day and one of my primary projects for the colder weather was not accomplished, yet. I know that there have been wasp/Dirt Dauber nests in  back of the refrigerator. I have seen them going in and out last year.  I don’t really want to destroy any one of them. The spiders keep other insects in check and the wasps and bees keep the spiders in check… I just don’t want any of them nesting on or in my living spaces.

I am not a weenie about such things but I am also not stupid. Bumble Bees and Dirt Daubers are pretty benign and generally won’t sting if you don’t directly assault them.  But Paper wasps, Flickers, most of the other large varieties are pretty aggressive and unpredictable.  I have seen a few that managed to get inside DakotR and each is encouraged to leave through amply opened doors and windows rather than by attacking them. Trying to dispatch a wasp in a closed area is like trying to take a gun away from a green beret… you are coming away with pain no matter how it ends.

However, as a believer in prevention before cure, I decided to cover the vent holes I have seen them using for their transporter to the refrigerator cubby. They are the typical kind with 3 rows of shielded holes on 2 doors, one for the bottom to let fresh air in and 1 door at the top to allow the heated air to escape.I had planned to do this during the cold weather while they were not active.

In looking for a solution I found the typical RV pricing on packages of stiffened screens to stick onto the inside of the doors.  At about $32 a package (2 packages required) you can see why I was trying to work out another solution.

I was in the basement (of the nearby house) when I spotted some rolls of aluminum expanded web gutter shields, designed I think, to catch every pine needle that tries to escape the roof.

I cut sections of it that were long enough to run the length of a single row of venting holes, then folded that in half and cut off the very tips of the folds so that I had 2 equal sized pieces.

I got my Gorilla Duct tape (its not just for “temporary” use, anymore) and cut three – 4” strips for each vent row.

Then, each strip was folded lengthwise (gosh this would be so much easier if I had not loaned my camera to #3 son) and to fit over the open holes with a flange to tape down above and below the row.

Basically, end-on, it looked kinda like a “Z” with a hump in it. A strip of tape on each end (be sure to tuck the ends of the mesh down snug) along the long edges of the mesh and its done.

I am not totally positive that the mesh will stop all the dirt daubers but I think it will because the mesh fits closely over the venting holes and there is no room for the wasps to land and climb through it.  I figure that if they are able to get through then I can either remake the covers by first, squishing the mesh lengthwise so the holes are a lot smaller or by making a second identical screen but offshifting the holes 1/2 the size of the holes. I know they won’t get through that.

I sure hope that I got all of the active nests out of there before sealing it up. If there are still active hatcheries in there, its going to get interesting.


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