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egochick

Pest Management

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Yellow Jackets

I live in Virginia, which is for now at least, north of the fire ant swarm. So instead of fire ants as the main ground pest, we have "yellow jacket" hornets. They are about half an inch long with yellow and black stripes on their body. They swarm if you are near their nest and sting you anywhere they can. Yellow jacket swarms will chase you for about a quarter mile at most (in my experience, at least). They nest in the ground with an entrance about the size of a dime to at most a quarter (if it is a really big nest). The nests, if collapsed, look like layers on a cake going several feet into the ground.

The best way that I have found to kill a ground nest of yellow jackets is to make note of where they nest. They all go into their nest at night, so at sunset take a lighter and a can of gas to the nest. When they are dormant, pour a gallon or two of gas down the hole. Ignite it by creating a small trail of gas to the side and holding the BBQ lighter as far from face and torso as possible so not to get hair singed in case the fire flashes back. It doesn't burn the hornets below the first layer or so of the nest. But the fire burns on after those hornets are dead, taking all the oxygen out of the nest and killing it completely. This method usually kills the entire nest in one treatment, but I've seen one big nest need a second night's treatment.

On a side note, here are a few things to *not* try in killing a ground nest:

1 - Filling the nest with water doesn't work. Even in Virginia red clay, which isn't terribly great at draining water, I have run a big well dry trying to fill a nest with water only to have not even made a dent in their population.

2 - Raid (or other product) is a wonderful tool. Always keep a can handy for shooting down stray hornets or killing a nest inside of a tubular metal gate or other enclosed space. But don't try to take on a ground nest with it. All you will do is kill a few on the top layer of the nest and anger the rest, which will chase you all the way to the car or house.

3 - Car exhaust does not kill hornets. Do not put a hose on the end of the exhaust pipe and shove the tube into the nest. The angered hornets will make their way into the exhaust system and make noise until they tire out and die. This was an old myth that started as a way to humanely kill off groundhogs (which also doesn't work).

Groundhogs

They make several huge holes in the ground, endangering horses and other livestock. A groundhog *never* makes just one hole, so look for more holes around the hole you find. The easiest way to dispose of them is putting poison bait inside their hole (not outside of it incase livestock eat it) or shooting them. In Virginia, they are vermin, so you need no permit to shoot them and there is no limit on how many you can kill or when. Reference

However, if you don't want to kill them, there are humane traps you can bait and leave out for them, then release them in an area they won't be as pesky. I didn't like doing this too much, since traps will catch other animals as well - especially skunks. Letting a skunk out of a trap is sort of like disarming a bomb you don't want to jostle or get close too.... The groundhogs can also make their way back to their old nest in the troublesome area. A side note on this method tho, is that I think you have to release them elsewhere on your own land because groundhogs are a pest by law.

Filling the holes with dirt, gravel, or even concrete doesn't work since they'll just dig more holes or dig out of your fillings. Sticking car exhaust down the hole doesn't work either. Groundhogs have several holes to their nest, so they can just go out of another hole to escape if need be. The nests are also fairly well ventilated. If by some extreme amount of effort, you manage to seal all the holes to the nest, it still wouldn't be a good method to rid yourself of groundhogs because car exhaust isn't a good thing to use if you wanted to suffocate it, since unlike in On The Beach, cars don't have too much in the way of toxic exhaust anymore.

Of course, there is always the Caddyshack way of killing ground vermin, but try that one at your own risk ... and then tell me how it turned out! :D

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Good information! Yellow jackets are very scary and I think I'd have to call someone in to remove the nest. :D

As for groundhogs, there were environmentalist groups who would go to different properties to trap and relocate them in Colorado a few years ago. I don't know if groups like that still exist or not. I haven't seen Caddyshack, but I can venture to guess what they did to groundhogs.

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As for groundhogs, ...

Scratch that... I need more coffee obviously! :D I was thinking of prairie dogs.

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