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Birdhouses in the Garden

December 13th, 2008

I have a few birdhouses in my gardens. The funny thing is that no birds live in them. I originally put them up for decoration last winter to bring some color to the gardens during the dull winters, but come spring I forgot to take them down.

They’re only eighteen inches off the ground so no birds live in them, but do have residents. One day I noticed that a wasp flew into one, then I noticed a few more wasps. So I guess they’re no longer bird houses, they’re wasp houses. I don’t mind wasps in the garden, they’re beneficial insects and with the exception of yellow jackets they don’t bother you unless you bother them.

Wasps and yellow jackets are beneficial insects. They feed their young on insects that would otherwise damage crops and ornamental plants in your garden. They can also feed on house fly and blow fly larva. Wasps and yellow jackets become aggressive when their nests are approached or disturbed. This is often when people and animals are stung. While these stings are painful (and life threatening to those that are allergic), these insects should be respected and tolerated under most conditions.

Here’s one of the residents.

This looks like a paper wasp to me. I spent some time on this great website looking at pictures trying to figure out what kind it was for sure. We have many different kinds of wasps living around here, I’ve been trying to take photos of all of them so I can identify them. Generally we leave them alone but if the paper wasps are building a nest in a high foot traffic area I usually just knock it down and they build elsewhere.

We also have yellow jackets that live around here. Last summer we had a huge nest in our front yard. We had to spray it because I’m allergic and they kept chasing me. A skunk dug up the nest and ate the rest of the wasps, so that was a relief. We leave them be if they are in the woods around the house.

This is another kind of wasp we have. They are teeny tiny (less than a centimeter long) and they love my oregano when it’s blooming (which are the flowers in the photo) as well as sedum and a few of my lace cap hydrangeas. I think they’re cuckoo wasps (also called jewel wasp, gold wasp, or emerald wasp), but I’m not positive on that.

So what about you, do you leave wasps to work in your gardens, or you spray like most people?

One Comment to “Birdhouses in the Garden”
  1. Squawkfox on December 13, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    OK, I love your birdhouses. They do brighten a backyard in the winter. So pretty. Now onto wasps…you are BRAVE to get this close to them. Wasps are the one insect I cannot live with. Bees I love. Wasps get the swatter. But wow, your photos are gorgeous.

    Reply to Squawkfox's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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