Project: Exterminate Yellow Jackets

For several years, yellow jackets made it extremely unpleasant, and often downright impossible, to enjoy sitting outside during the summer on the deck. As everyone who has experienced yellow jackets knows, these are extremely aggressive and downright hostile insects. While bees are generally peaceful and useful creatures, helping to pollinate, yellow jackets don’t pollinate, and are generally pure evil. My goal now every spring is to do my best to completely eradicate them from the area. Many of the yellow jackets found in the United States are not even native, but invasive species from Europe, if you need additional incentive to obliterate them. Again, to repeat. Yellow jackets are mean and nasty wasps. They do not pollinate flowers and help fruit grow. They are not critical to the ecosystem of your back yard. You can do your best to completely eradicate them from your yard, and feel no guilt doing so.

Most people wait until they are being bother by yellow jackets to put up a trap or two in the summer. By then, it is far too late. Yellow jacket nests can have several thousand wasps by mid summer, and you may well have multiple nests in or near your yard. It is simply impossible to trap them all by this time, in fact their nests will probably increase in population faster than you can trap and kill them. You’ll find it impossible to sit outside and enjoy summer, being forced to hide inside and watch reruns of old TV shows.

But it turns out, there is a solution. You need to act now. Yellow jacket nests are annual, only the queen survives winter. Once the weather warms up (as in right now) the queens emerge, to establish the new nests for this summer. While later in the season they have their evil minions to do their bidding, gathering food and generally making your life miserable, right now they have to do the dirty work. Which means this is your opportunity to trap and kill every single queen you possibly can. And it’s not that difficult to do.

After experimenting with various commercial yellow jacket traps, most of which used expensive pheromone based lures that had to be replaced often, and often did not even work very well, I stumbled on this style trap made by Victor:

The trap is a plastic bottle with a top that screws on. The top has small holes in it, under the yellow top (which keeps out the rain), which the wasps can fly into. But due to their erratic flying pattern, they have a difficult time escaping from the trap. So they are stuck inside, and finally die.

I bait the traps with a grape juice / cranberry juice mix, I find this works best, although you can try plain grape juice or other juices, and see what works best for you:

I pour a small amount of juice into each trap, this lures the yellow jackets into the trap, where their meet their demise:

I purchased a dozen traps several years ago, and place them in various locations around the perimeter of my yard. You can probably get by with just a few, if you have a small yard. You do want to find the ideal locations to place them, which depends on where the likely yellow jacket nests are located. I find that placing them on the sides of my yard near the woods captures the most wasps, which makes sense. After a few years of using them, I now know where they should be located, but to get started you can experiment by spacing the traps near the most likely areas, and then seeing which traps capture the most wasps, and which capture few, or even none. Move the traps away from areas that are not productive to those that are, of course it may take a season to completely figure it out, but even with non optimal locations, you will likely capture and kill many queens.

You need to periodically examine the traps to check for dead wasps, as well as refill with more juice as needed. Obviously you want to carefully examine the trap before opening it, to make sure all the wasps are dead, or in poor enough shape that you can kill them after dumping out the contents. Queens are fairly easy to identify, they are much larger than the usual yellow jackets you see.

There are plans online for building your own trap from a 2 liter soda bottle. I’ve tried this, and have not had much success, but you might want to give it a try and see how it works for you.

Again, it is imperative to get your traps out now, so you can capture and kill every queen yellow jacket possible. Each queen you kill means one fewer nest, which means thousands fewer yellow jackets invading your barbecues this summer.

Winter 2016-2017 Snowfall

On Parr’s Ridge in northern Carroll County, MD.

Contest
Guess The Amount of Snow At Casa De Smolinski

Seasonal Snowfall Contest Entries

  2.2	Ok_now_3-2-1_DANK-HANK
  3.2	Pamsm
  4.4	I love Kate
  5.0	hee hee
  7.5	Questsnow
 12.5	83worldtraveler
 19.7	Groveton
 23.6	Snowbi-wan Kenobi
 24.1	A CAMDEN WALKER
 25.7	wadejg
 26.2	Kate commenting
 27.0	taylort2
 29.4	Autumn_Forge
 29.7	heroine.chic
 31.6	cameraman
 31.7	Rex Block
 33.3	bob919
 35.1	Xtrain21
 36.5	walter-in-fallschurch
 38.4  	pct_atc
 43.2	NorthArlington101
 45.6	Terpiecat
 50.2	eric654
 53.4	AndrewinStafford
 54.5	chrisofthebeagles
 57.3	BigCountry
 57.9	slamslam
 79.0	surewhynot
120.0	The Adorable Miniature Snowplows
201.7	Days Of Weather Past

Saturday November 19, 2016:
Sleet. Changed to light snow before ending.

Sunday November 20, 2016:
Snow flurries.

November Total: 0.0″

Sunday December 11, 2016:
0.1″ Snow.

Saturday December 17, 2016:
0.5″ Snow and sleet, then 0.2″ freezing rain.

December Total: 0.6″

Friday January 6, 2017:
2.8″ Snow.

Saturday January 7, 2017:
Light snow, no accumulation.

Tuesday January 10, 2017:
Light snow, 0.1″ accumulation.

Wednesday January 11, 2017:
0.07″ of freezing rain, accumulation on the ground and road surfaces only, due to above freezing air temperatures.

Saturday January 14, 2017:
Sleet, light snow, freezing rain.

Friday January 27, 2017:
Snow flurries.

Saturday January 28, 2017:
Snow flurries.

Sunday January 29, 2017:
Snow flurries.

Monday January 30, 2017:
0.5″ of snow from a quick squall.

January Total: 3.4″

Thursday February 9, 2017:
3.0″ of snow after rain.

Wednesday February 15, 2017:
Snow flurries and graupel.

February Total: 3.0″

Friday March 3, 2017:
Light snow, 0.1″ accumulation.

Friday March 10, 2017:
Light snow, 2.8″ accumulation.

Tuesday March 4, 2017:
11.0″ of heavy but not wet snow.

A view of one of the ponds. Sadly there are frog eggs under all that snow:

I hope the Lilac makes it:

Saturday March 18 – Sunday March 19, 2017:
2.0″ of snow.

March Total: 15.9″

Friday April 7, 2017:
Light snow for about an hour, no accumulation as it was 41F.

April Total: 0.0″

2016-2017 Season To Date Total: 22.9″

Winter 2015-2016 Snowfall

Saturday December 19, 2015:
Trace snow.

December Total: Trace

2015-2016 Season Total: Trace

Monday January 4, 2016:
Flurries.

Tuesday January 12, 2016:
0.3″

Sunday January 17, 2016:
0.2″

Wednesday January 20, 2016:
0.3″

Friday January 22, 2016 – Saturday January 23, 2016:
28.0″

January Total: 28.8″

Friday February 5, 2016:
A dusting of snow while temperature were above freezing.

Tuesday February 9, 2016:
7.5″ as of 11:00 AM. Fairly wet and heavy snow. Above freezing for much of the time it fell.
Then 2.8″ in the evening for a total of 10.3″.
Some earlier pictures:




Friday February 12, 2016:
1.0″ of very light and puffy snow, I was able to clear the driveway with the leaf blower.

Monday February 15, 2016:
1.0″ of snow, later changing to sleet and some light freezing rain.

Thursday February 25, 2016:
Snow flurries.

Friday February 26, 2016:
Snow flurries.

February Total: 12.3″

Friday March 4, 2016:
1.6″ of snow.

Sunday March 6, 2016:
A dusting of snow.

Saturday March 19, 2016:
0.5″ of snow.

March Total: 2.16″

Sunday April 3, 2016:
A dusting of snow during a strong wind event.

Friday April 8, 2016:
Snow flurries.

Saturday April 9, 2016:
0.5″ of snow, also some graupel.

April Total: 0.5″

2015-2016 Season Total: 43.7″

Winter 2014-2015 Snowfall

Thursday November 13, 2014:
0.5 inch snow.

Wednesday November 26, 2014:
0.56 inch of rain, changed to snow early morning
3.9 inch snow.
Changed to graupel as it was ending.

Science experiment with the kids:

We cut a block of snow from outside, 12.5 by 9 by 7.5 cm, and computed the volume: 843.75 cm3. We shaved the top to make sure it was even.

Then we took the snow and weighed it, and came up with 160g.

We melted the snow and measured the volume, and got 160 ml (nice to see the agreement).

Then we computed the snow to liquid ratio: 843.75/160=5.27.

Our measured snow depth here was 3.9 inches, so that is 0.74 inches liquid. We got 0.56 inch of rain before it switched to snow. So rather impressive 1.3 inches of liquid total.

Saturday November 29, 2014:
0.3 inch of snow from a quick dusting.

November Total: 4.7 inches

Tuesday December 2, 2014:
0.54 inch of rain.
0.2 inch of snow/sleet.

Monday December 8, 2014:
Snow flurries.

Tuesday December 9, 2014:
0.1 inch freezing rain.

Wednesday December 10, 2014:
Snow flurries in the evening.

Thursday December 11, 2014:
Snow flurries and light snow throughout the day, 0.25 inch total accumulation.

December Total: 0.45 inches

Monday January 5, 2015:
Snow flurries in the morning.

Tuesday January 6, 2015:
3.0 inches of snow.

Wednesday January 7, 2015:
0.3 inches of snow.

Monday January 12, 2015:
0.1 inch of freezing rain.

Wednesday January 14, 2015:
0.2 inches of snow.

Monday January 19, 2015:
Dusting of snow.

Wednesday January 21, 2015:
3.5 inches of snow.

Friday January 23, 2015 – Saturday January 24, 2015:
1.25 inches of snow.

Monday January 26, 2015 – Tuesday January 27, 2015:
1.9 inches of snow.

Thursday January 29, 2015
0.25 inches of snow.

January Total: 10.4 inches

Monday February 2, 2015
1.0 inches of snow/sleet/rain/etc.

Monday February 9, 2015
Crunchy coating of snow, sleet, freezing rain.

Thursday February 12, 2015
0.1 inches of snow.

Saturday February 14, 2015
0.5 inches of snow.

Monday February 16, 2015 – Tuesday February 17, 2015
2.5 inches of snow.

Wednesday February 18, 2015
0.1 inches of snow.

Thursday February 19, 2015
A dusting of snow.

Saturday February 21, 2015
7.25 inches of snow.

Thursday February 26, 2015
0.2 inches of snow.

Friday February 27, 2015
0.25 inches of snow.

February Total: 11.90 inches

Sunday March 1, 2015
1.0 inch of snow, followed by sleet and about 0.1 inch of freezing rain.

Tuesday March 3, 2015
0.1 inch of freezing rain.

Thursday March 5, 2015
13.25 inches of snow.

Friday March 20, 2015
3.0 inches of snow.

Tuesday March 24, 2015
Dusting of snow.

March (to date) Total: 17.25 inches snow, 0.1 inch ice

Season To Date Total: 44.70 inches