By Diane Lockspeiser

I’ve been working on gradually expanding the terraced areas of my garden, where most of the plantings are, using a hand rake to carve out small sections at a time. Years ago when the weeds in the garden got the better of me for a while (because they love the heat of the Summer and I don’t), instead of becoming overwhelmed I began my “bucket a day” policy. I bring an empty 5 gallon spackle bucket with me most mornings when I water and tend the garden, and make myself fill that bucket with weeds before I can call it quits for the day. Once the weeds were under control, I continued the policy by expanding the terraced areas. Since my garden is on a steep hillside, the sections in between planting areas were left as lawn in order to avoid erosion. So whatever lawn I remove while terracing fills the bucket.

Yesterday while in this process, I inadvertently plunged my hand rake into a Yellow Jacket nest that was under the lawn, and ripped it open. I certainly couldn’t blame them for chasing me away, but while doing so one of them took a nice big bite into the side of my breast—a very delicate spot indeed! Boy, did that hurt!

It continued to hurt and swell for most of the day. Benadryl did help ease the swelling somewhat, but nothing that I put on the bite stopped the throbbing pain for more than a few minutes. I eased my mental anguish with a good dose of chocolate ice cream. Finally I read online about applying a cold compress to the area. Using the “boo-boo butterfly” left in the freezer by my grandchildren, I tried it while watching a movie. By the end of the movie, the pain had finally subsided.

I once had a beautiful colored-glass wasp trap that I kept near our picnic table, in which I found trapped flies as well as wasps. Unfortunately it got broken and I never did find a replacement. These days I have fly traps that are not as pretty but work in mostly the same way. I put one of them up in the garden to see if it would lure the Yellow Jackets. When I checked this morning, the trap had only flies in it. The lure for flies is made from rotten egg. I remembered that the wasp trap used meat as a lure. Of course! I should have figured that wasps are more particular than flies! I could also use something sweet, but then I might lure in the good bees, and I certainly don’t want to do that.

I read online that I could use a plain jar with a hole punched into the lid as a trap. I put one out tonight with some of the hamburger from our dinner. Hopefully it will work so that it won’t be quite so nerve-wracking to continue working in my garden.~