Sandy: Trailer Wasp Woes

I haven’t used my two-horse trailer since my daughter was born about three years ago. Pathetic, I know, but that’s my reality for now. Twice a year, though, I go through it to make sure everything looks OK. I know I should drive it around occasionally, too, but I never quite manage that. A solution recently presented itself when Stacey was having trouble with her trailer. I offered her mine, figuring it was a win-win?she’d get use of a trailer and my trailer would get used. In preparation, the next time I was at the barn, I headed over to check out the trailer. I opened the back ramp and the side doors and was about to step inside when I looked up. Uh oh. I started to count: one, two, three, four, five. Five wasp nests dotted the ceiling. The biggest was about the size of a tennis ball and had quite a few wasps huddled on it. I immediately thought about calling my husband, Guy, to take care of the problem, then chastised myself for being such a wimp. (In all fairness, he is more strategic and coordinated about things like this than I am.) Instead, though, I took a deep breath and told myself, “I can handle this.” I repositioned my car so the opened driver’s door was as close to the trailer as possible for a fast getaway. Then I slowly reached inside the trailer door for the broom, thinking I’d swat down as many of the empty-looking nests as possible before going for the tennis-ball version. I hit four nests before the wasps noticed and gave chase. Heart pounding, I threw down the broom and sprinted for the car. As I jumped in and slammed the door, I thought, “Safe!” The barn is far enough from the trailers that there was no risk of being followed, so I took a break and rode Merlot. Once he was safely back in his field, I grabbed one of the barn brooms, drove to my trailer and strategically positioned my car again. I crept up to the back of the trailer and peered in. Six or seven wasps were crawling over the final nest. I jumped onto the ramp and heaved the broom in the direction of the nest. Not looking back, I ran for my car, slipping on the gravel and falling to my knees halfway there. Panicked, I leapt up and lunged for the door. Once inside, I breathed another sigh of relief. I checked my trailer the following Friday night, peeking around the still-open back door and looked up. No nests. Tentatively I stood on tiptoe to check out the top of a thin rim than runs around the inside of the trailer. No nests. Feeling pretty good, I started to dust spider webs off the chest bars. Suddenly a wasp buzzed around my head, then another, then another. I shot out of the trailer, waving my arms around my head like a lunatic and running for the barn. (At least I wasn’t screaming.) Amazingly I wasn’t stung and no wasps followed me. As a break from this adventure, I rode Merlot, which was marred only by the knowledge that I still had to do wasp battle. Too soon, I was heading back to the trailer. Cautiously I opened the side door and peered in. I looked at the chest bar and couldn’t see any wasps or nests. Then I looked at the stall divider. Two padded panels were separated by a thin space. Tucked into that space was a small nest, covered in wasps. Wanting this job done, I got a broom and tried my “throw” technique again. Not waiting to see if I was successful, I jumped in my car. The next day, I peered in to see if I’d hit my target, and I hadn’t. I’d also forgotten Plan B?the wasp insecticide at home?so I left the barn, knowing I’d be back at it this weekend. This week I’ve researched the best ways to get rid of wasp’s nests (something I should have done before I started knocking them down). Unfortunately, we haven’t done any stories on removing wasps nests (I feel a story idea coming on!), so I searched the Internet and found the web site associated with Cornell University, which had some helpful tips, including: ? Use an approved wasp-and-hornet spray that propels a stream of insecticide 15-25 feet. ? Treatment is most effective in the evening when the majority of the insects are on the nest. ? Dress appropriately. Wear eye protection, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and boots and secure your sleeves and pant legs. ? Establish an unobstructed escape route and be ready to move away quickly. ? Stand a safe distance from the nest and slowly approach while spraying in a sweeping motion. ? If you require illumination, use a flashlight covered with red cellophane for a light?wasps cannot see red. A few others sites mentioned to look in corners, vents, beams and near doors. I hadn’t thought of the vents, so that will be the next place I look, as well as under the trailer (though I might drive it first to try to dislodge any nests that way). The sites also suggest washing the area where the insecticide has been sprayed with soap and water. So my weekend fun is set. Tonight, armed with wasp insecticide and long-sleeved shirts and pants (it’s only supposed to be in the 90s), I’ll take on the wasps?and if that doesn’t work, I’ll call my husband. Let me know about your pest-related adventures!

Surprise! Wasps inhabit the space between the stall divider in my horse trailer. ?Sandra Oliynyk
My broom lies where I threw it down after trying to dislodge a wasp’s nest from my trailer. ?Sandra Oliynyk
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