This past week my hummingbird sanctuary hasn’t been much of a sanctuary… more like a war zone, really. I’ve been faithfully refilling the feeders at least twice a day, and the black jacket wasps finally discovered them.
Bugs and I have a fairly broad “live and let live” agreement, so I initially let them be. The black jackets do have a purpose (beyond being nature’s jerks), and I hate killing anything when it’s outside. But then they started hogging the feeders and chasing the hummingbirds away, so Gene bought some wasp traps and set them out there. That seemed to control the problem… until today.
When I went out to do the evening refill – it was a literal population explosion. There were probably close to 100, fighting with the hummingbirds, fighting with each other, and when I stepped out onto the deck and recoiled in sheer horror once I noticed them all, they all stopped what they were doing to stare at me.
In what I honestly believe is my bravest moment to date, I snatched up the feeders one by one, which was hard to do given I’d pulled my hoody over my face. Then Gene refilled the wasp traps with nectar, but the wasps were too busy angrily buzzing around to notice them. And they were attacking the hummingbirds, which were doing the same thing. They say humans are 3 days from total societal breakdown when the food supply is disrupted… hummingbirds and wasps are apparently a mere 3 seconds.
I always feel bad when I take down the feeders to wash each week. All 12 hummingbirds buzz around in a panic where the sugar dispensers used to be, because god forbid they have to switch to the hundreds of actual flowers I grew just for them. Clearly they’d much rather pull up a chair to the buffet.
At any rate, I wasn’t going to deal with a porch full of upset hummingbirds and angry wasps, especially when Gene’s allergic and the internet said black jackets will “hunt you down” when they’re vexed. I decided sucking them out of the air with the shop vac would be the best solution, because that’s pretty much my solution to anything bad that happens outdoors.
And it totally worked!!! Sure, I might have denuded one side of my Fuscia and skeletonized a few Salvia leaves. It also would have been really nice if I’d gotten to see that stem of my giant Nicotania bloom, because it probably would have been really beautiful and I’ve been waiting all month for it to finally do something cool.
And I learned the hard way that the shop vac will glom onto a feeder and suck out all the nectar if you’re not *really* careful where you’re waving it. But the important thing is the wasps either got Hoovered or moved on.
I also disturbed our giant Poplar moth, who was burrowed into his favorite petunias. He didn’t like the blow back from the shop vac motor, but as soon as we moved it to the other side of the porch he calmed down again.
The Hummingbird Sanctuary was worth every bit of the time and energy it took to grow everything from seed (plus adding all the ‘can’t live withouts’ Gene and I found at various nurseries.) All the flowers have drawn in all sorts of bees, dragonflies and moths of all kinds.
The farm critters are irked that we fenced it off, though. Every so often a guinea will fly up in the air and come crashing down on one of the pots, and the geese have taken to sitting right next to the fence on the porch stairs and complaining loudly to anyone who will listen.
It doesn’t help that Claire found an old pallet underneath the porch and decided to lay all her eggs where we couldn’t get to them. She’s now sitting on her nest, so I suppose at some point we (and by ‘we’ I mean Gene) will have to crawl under there to either retrieve some adorable goslings or some incredibly stinky eggs.