OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

There are nontoxic ways to remove things that buzz

09/26/1997

CORVALLIS - Many people are torn between an irrational fear of buzzing, stinging insects and a reluctance to use toxic chemicals around the home. There are alternatives that address both concerns.

But first, you need to identify the buzzing creature in question.

"'Bee has become a generic term that refers to several species of social 'hymenoptera,' as well as solitary bees," said Lynn Royce, an insect identification specialist for the Oregon State University Extension Service. "For the timid, most of the identification can be done from a safe distance by just looking at their nests or hives."

Yellow jackets or bald-faced hornets typically build large, roundish paper nests, Royce said. The nests increase in size as the colony grows and are usually basketball-sized or even larger by fall.

"There are, however, some yellow jackets that live underground, where you can't as easily identify their paper nests," Royce noted. "If this is what you would like removed, there may be a person in your area who is franchised to collect them for a pharmaceutical company.

"These collectors will remove them for free," Royce said. "They then sell the yellow jackets or bald faced hornets to pharmaceutical companies which make desensitization serum. Call your county OSU Extension agent or ask a local entomologist to find to help locate someone in this business."

Wasps make smaller nests. The nests usually are open combs of paper with fewer than 20 individuals per nest, Royce said. "I know of no one who will collect these for free, but you might find and an entomologist who, for the love of a bug, will remove and relocate the wasps," she added.

Honey bees generally live inside cavities and may take up residence in a tree that has a hollow space in its large limbs or trunk. For removal of honey bees, you need to look in the Yellow Pages for local beekeepers. Removal may or may not be free.

Old bird or rodent nests inside a hollow space in a tree may harbor bumblebees - the large, yellow and black stripped insects that seem to scare people the most. They actually are quite docile. "I collect and relocate them for Corvallis residents," Royce said.

Royce says if you are willing to make a few phone calls there are often alternatives to poisoning these buzzing insects around the home. "Remember, all bees are beneficial pollinators in our gardens and crops and we need to protect them. Wasps are also beneficial as predators of garden pests and removers of carrion," said Royce. "Moving their nests allows these insects continue their beneficial roles."