Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yellow Jackets and Bald Faced Hornets

        We're getting close to their "season". I've already run across a couple of nests. They are about as big as a softball right now and are nearing "critical mass" where they will explode in size and population, seemingly almost overnight. I get calls from people saying they have a big "bees" nest and it wasn't there yesterday. It was there, it was just much smaller and easily overlooked.
         Bald Faced (sometimes called White A**ed) hornets typically build nests that hang from tree branches, in shrubbery, or attached to a building (typically at the peak of the roof, on flood light fixtures, or under the soffit).

         On the right, is a picture of a Bald Faced Hornet's nest. Below that is a picture of the hornet.

      Yellow jackets (picture below) will build nests in a variety of places. They will build nests similar to Bald Faced hornet nests in the same type of location (shrubs, trees, and on buildings). They will also build nests in the ground in abandoned rodent burrows, under or in wood piles and brush piles, leaf piles, and under anything laying on the ground. They also have a nasty habit of building nests in the structure of homes and subsequently chewing through ceilings and walls (usually ceilings). If you ever notice what appears to be a wet spot, about the size of a dime, on a ceiling or wall, anytime after mid-July, DO NOT poke your finger or anything else into it, because you will put it right through into the nest and you will quickly have a room full of yellow jackets.
       These two members of the wasp family (they are NOT "bees") can be extremely dangerous and cause most of the allergic "bee stings" that occur every summer. They are extremely aggressive, attack in multiple numbers, and each one can sting multiple times. They do not lose their stinger and, therefore, live to "sting another day". Yellow jackets are the "bees" you see trying to get a bite of your hamburger or a sip of your soda at summer outings and picnics.

Here are a couple of videos of these critters:



Monday, July 11, 2011

Upside Down Powder Post Beetles?

Saturday, we went to a customer who was complaining that she had small piles of sawdust on the floor of an out building. We investigated and sure enough, we found about a dozen piles of sawdust that looked like the picture on the right. The sawdust was very fine with the consistency of talcum powder. This is characteristic of powder post beetles, but they are usually in overhead beams and we couldn't fine any holes in the wood on the ceiling, so where was it coming from? I took one of the piles and blew the sawdust away.  As you can see from the next picture, on the floor was a hole (it's right dead center in the picture), the adult beetle had laid eggs in a crevice on the surface of the floor and the larva from the hatched eggs were tunneling into the floor and pushing the sawdust out behind them. Very unusual! They were feeding on the wood and then would emerge at a future date as adult beetles and the cycle would repeat itself. We treated the floor. They have occasionally been reported emerging from newly installed hardwood floors, but this is first time I've ever done this for powder post beetles seemingly just starting into the floor. Powder post beetles and other wood destroying beetles can be as damaging as termites, it just takes them a lot longer to do the same amount of damage.