I have a lot of flying insects around my house, including hundreds of wasps and hornets. As long as they don’t build their nests close to my doorways or under my mailbox, I leave them alone and they leave me alone.
I returned from my recent trip out of state to find my backyard littered with bits of shredded plastic tarp that had blown off the roof of the shed that is attached to my garage.
The roof leaks, and I’ve been putting a new tarp on it every year to protect the stuff I have stored in there. I know, it’s time to just get it repaired properly already and stop risking my life climbing up there on a ladder to replace the tarp. However, now I’ve got a dilemma.
There’s a nice little wasp (Polistes dominulus, or European paper wasp) nest coming along here, about the size of the palm of my hand, and it’s located well outside of my usual lines of travel and far enough from the house that I have no reason to be concerned about it. I don’t want to destroy it, but will have to if I don’t want to get severely punctured replacing that tarp. Paper wasps have smooth, needle-like stingers that can inflict multiple stings. The stinger is a modification of the female’s egg-laying tube (males do not have stingers). Since only the queen lays eggs, this structure evolved into a defensive mechanism for all the other females. (Lots more information here.)
Even with stinging insects (which experts say “should be considered beneficial pollinators, predators, or scavengers”), I prefer to live and let live. Fortunately the weather is nice right now (the summer sunshine and heat have undoubtedly hastened the disintegration of that tarp, though), so I can put off the day of reckoning a little longer before it rains.
I have another little shed at the very back of my yard that is unused and unloved, but serves as a great haven for wasp nests. I wish I could just move this one there and we would all be happy.