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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.


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By Mrs FM

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Alan J Hartley



A Problem With Wasps.

August seems to be the time for problems with Wasps, just as the Fruit is ripening. We have certainly had a problem with them at work and because of the nature of the Centre where I work - having Adults with Learning Disabilities on site, we have to get Pest Control in to deal with them straight away and from other people’s stories it appears to be a bumper year for Wasps. I haven’t escaped unscathed with a Nest being built into my Bungalow and the Wasps accessing it through an Air Brick. I tried to deal with it with some Insect Powder and it seemed to work for a few days, but then they gradually reappeared again. I don’t know if that was due to Grubs in the Nest hatching to replace the dead ones, or what, but I may have to get the Pest Control in to deal with it. Unfortunately I have also had a Wasp Nest on my Allotment for the first time this year. That is, the first time for a Nest anywhere on the Allotments. I spoke to a couple of Committee members and they were undecided what to do.
The Nest had been excavated in the edge of my Strawberry Bed where the soil has a lot of Wood Chips mixed into it. They build their Nests from chewed up wood fibre to make a papery like material, so obviously all that Wood Chip was ideal for them. We could not make up our minds as to whether we should leave the Nest until the Winter, when the Wasps will naturally die, or get it dealt with straight away.
It seems that Adult Wasps do bring some benefits to Allotments as they Pollinate Flowers when they go for the sweet Nectar, although sometimes they cheat and cut a hole in the back of the flower to get at it, and they feed their Young Grubs on small Insects like Aphids. So they are helpful in their own way with Pest Control as well which Bees don’t do. However, the adult Wasps also feed on over ripe fruit, of which there can be a lot at this time of year. Wasps will eat into fallen Apples and they have a reputation for liking Plums with them often being found burrowing into Fruit that is still on the Tree. I have also found that they love Figs which should come as no surprise with them being very sweet and sticky when ripe. Indeed I went to pick my first Fig of the Season towards the end of August and pulled back just in time to see a wasp crawling round inside it.

Before I found the Nest on my Plot I was badly stung by the Wasps as I was weeding a path running next to it. While picking the Weeds up I was bending down close to the Nest and one of the little blighters got trapped between my Glove and my Watch Strap and just kept stinging me. I have never reacted much in the past to the odd Wasp sting, but this time I did and had to go down to the local Pharmacy for some anti Histamine Tablets that took the swelling down. Even then it took a few days for all of the swelling to go.
I immediately warned one, or two, People and one in particular as I knew she was Allergic. We often joke about getting stung by being silly around Wasps, but for the few who are Allergic it can be a life, or death, situation if they don’t get urgent treatment.
With this in mind I talked the situation over with my Friend who has the Plot next to mine and we agreed that I should put some Insect Powder into the hole and not wait for Winter. There was a problem though in as much as they wouldn’t let you get close enough to squirt the Powder down the hole. So, after I realised that they don’t fly at night, I decided to launch my attack after dark. I warned the Allotment Secretary that I would be wondering Around the Allotments after dark with a Torch and not to call the Police. After all it might look a bit suspicious ! ! ! One Plot Holder asked me if I was going to leave the Allotments as it was getting dark and he offered to shut the Gate after me, but I replied that I was going “Big Game Hunting,” “Or at least Small Game Hunting As I Was Hunting Wasps!” I added “I’m A Bit Of A Coward though, So I Am Going After Them After Dark When They Have Gone To Bed!” I explained to him and he left me to carry out my attack. On inspecting the hole after Dusk, everything seemed to be quiet with only one, or two Wasps crawling round the hole, but not actually flying around. So I gave a good squirt of the Powder into the hole and quickly moved away hoping for the best. Like the Nest at home it seemed to reduce their activity for a few days, but did not completely cure the problem, so I think we will have to get the Pest Control out after all.

As I have said in some ways Wasps do benefit the Allotments, but they are never thought of as kindly as Bees. Over the years we have had several Plot Holders express an interest in keeping Bees on our Site. I did think that allowing the Wasp Nest to stay might go some way to appeasing the request with them carrying out some Pollination work, although of course there would be no Jars of Honey ! ! ! Perhaps Wasps are slightly more aggressive than Bees under normal circumstances, but neither should be a problem unless threatened. However, after the incidents with the Wasps I remembered an incident, with Bees at my Ex-Policeman Friend’s Allotment, in the next Village, a few years ago.
The Following “Link,” will take you to an article that I wrote at the time. (Article 121.)
I had been working on his Plot next to the Hive and was stung several times as was my Friend, but when he was attacked they were very aggressive and even followed him down the path and into his Car. At the time we thought that maybe some African Bees, that we had heard about, might have got mixed in with the Hive, but the authorities said then, and still say now, that there have never been any in this Country. The Bee’s aggression was merely the result of bad management of the Hive the day before in the same way the Wasps aggression was due to my interfering with the soil around their nest. I think both Bees and Wasps need to be treated with respect. There are some quite strict regulations on Bee Keeping and quite rightly so. The Rules have probably changed since that first incident, but I don’t think Bee Keeping is for the faint hearted and isn’t as simple as some people think and if you are going to permit a Wasp Nest to remain, you need to take extreme care around it.


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