Summer time and the water is finally warm enough to dive in and enjoy. You’ve got your beach ball, your old retro snorkel and the ever popular floating drink tray. Unfortunately what you can also have is angry wasps.
Paper wasps are famous for building their nests just underneath the metal ledge that encircles almost every above ground pool. It offers excellent protection from the rain, warmth from the sun heating up the aluminum and hardly anyone ever bothers them mainly because they are below eye level. The water offers them a ready supply of construction material and something to drink as well. They usually begin building their home in the spring and are relatively no problem. By the time you throw your first pool party however the nest can be quite large and the sudden activity can cause your two paths to cross.
Normally paper wasps are rather docile and really won’t attack unless threatened or provoked. When water is spilling up over the sides and the bottom of the finished edge that’s when they may fly out and become agitated. I know many kids who like to play ‘squirt gun wars’ with them and that can get a little dicey too.
It’s best to check the underside of the metal edge and any decking every spring for small nests and then again throughout the warm weather. Catching a nest when it’s small is much easier to deal with. To do this safely I simply put my hand pump sprayer on fan or cone spray and low pressure. At arms length (plus the length of the wand) I simply walk around the pool and spray up under the edge. When you hit a nest one or two will fly out and usually just circle and go back under. You may ask;
“Why don’t you just look under the edge?” and to that I would reply, “Because you’re liable to get your nose stung.”
The low pressure fan spray almost never sends the wasps flying out in defense mode but it should at least get one or two who’ve been hit in the face to fly out and reveal their nesting site. Once you’ve located it you can either grab a can of wasp spray for the instant knockdown or simply spray with the fan pattern a time or two and that will be more than enough to kill them in most cases.
It may take a few minutes for the pesticide from the pump sprayer to work but soon they simply start dropping to the ground. Again, the fan pattern is what you want so that you hit all of them simultaneously and this technique usually keeps them on the nest rather than buzzing out looking to defend by stinging. It’s important also to realize that even though the insects are dead their stingers may still be capable of penetrating bare feet or hands even hours later. I’d stay away from that side of the pool for awhile.
The fan spray trick will work on paper wasps just about anywhere but just make sure that is what you’re dealing with. Yellow Jackets or bees won’t be so accommodating and you could get hurt. So break out the sun tan lotion and have some fun. Oh and maybe get a new snorkel, your embarrassing the kids.