Friday, May 28, 2010



Back when I had my 25th anniversary at IBM, I got the figurative gold watch — an item I got to pick out of a catalogue, which could have been an actual gold watch, or one of various other things: golf clubs, a grandfather clock, a television set... or, what I selected, a gas grill. I’ve always been happy with my selection, and I use the grill often.

Wasp-infested corner of the grillThe grill came with a tarp-like fabric cover, and over the last week or two a colony of wasps appears to have moved in under the cover. I know this because the other day, when I walked past it, I was stung on the top of my foot by one of the sentries, which perceived me as a threat.

And, well, actually, I am. I aim to evict them, that I might again use the grill. The trouble is that because the nest is under the cover, I can’t see it. I can see the wasps coming and going, and if I bash the operative corner of the cover with a broom, a dozen or so wasps come out to see what’s what, looking for the attacker (who has, by then, gone into the house and closed the sliding glass door).

Normally, when I find wasps I leave them alone and simply avoid them until winter, knowing that all but the queens die off, and in the spring the queens leave their nests and build others elsewhere. I can then brush away the old nest, and life is good for both me and the wasps.

That won’t work in this case, clearly, but neither do I know how to get rid of them. Bashing with the broom manages nothing but annoying them, and, satisfying though that might be, it’s not terribly productive. I figure that I might have to call in the pros and throw money at the problem.

But first, I thought I’d post something here, and see if anyone has an idea how to get rid of a wasp nest that I can neither see nor get to. The photo shows the corner of the grill where they appear to be, with the blur of a wasp circled in red (click to enlarge). If you have suggestions, please post them in the comments.

And thanks, readers, in advance for any help you can give.


Thomas J. Brown said...

I don't know how true it is, but I've heard that wasps can't fly at night (or have significant trouble), so you might be able to go out at night, take the cover off, and take care of business. More research and/or experimentation is probably a good idea.

Let me know if you go this route. I've never upset wasps after dark, but have always been curious if it's true.

Barry Leiba said...

They can't fly when it's cold, and in spring and fall it's too chilly at night. But I don't think there's anything about the darkness that stops them flying.

In any case, that's easy to test: I can do the broom-bash at night, and see what happens.

Thomas J. Brown said...

The whole not being able to fly at night thing always seemed suspect to me, but I'm not an expert in the ways of the Hymenoptera.

Brent said...

Hire an other words, outsource the problem!

Frisky070802 said...

They're invading your space ... that makes them space invaders! (After google's homepage last weekend celebrating pacman, I expected something along those lines from the title.)

Well ... good luck. I'd outsource it myself.

HRH said...

I had this problem once, except, at the time, I had put away the grill under my porch (yours seems to be on the porch from the picture). I am terrified of wasps, merely because they look so unfriendly. I tied a long rope to, 4 pieces of shorter ropes, where these 4 ropes were hanging from the long rope, like spaghetti strands. At the end of each shorter rope, I connected a clip (similar to those used in battery jump cables, bought at Lowes hardware store). One Saturday afternoon while standing on the porch, I carefully lowered the long rope with the strands and clips, to the top of the cover, and left it there. At night I walked by the grill and snapped the clips to four bottom corner of the cover, and run away to the house, in case if wasps were going to come out. The next morning, I slightly open the sliding glass door, which opened to my porch, grabbed the end of the long rope, yanked it as hard as I could and were able to lift the cover, closed the sliding glass door right away, but to my surprise they were actually nested inside the grill. Following Saturday evening, using the similar scheme, I managed to lift the hood on the grill and they did come out, while I run into the house.
The next day I purred Kerosene in the grill, to contaminate the nest but they were gone by then. Perhaps you need to do something similar, to first lift the cover from the grill and then further to lift the hood.

Good luck.

Nathaniel Borenstein said...

If you don't mind using poison on your grill, you should be able to get some wasp spray and spray it in through the opening you can see. I'm sure it will work -- the stuff is so toxic that my biggest concern is using it in proximity to cooking equipment -- but it won't be any more toxic than an exterminator. And it will be a lot cheaper.