Come for the Chicken, Stay for a Swim.

Friday, August 19, 2016


We have been gifted with two quite remarkable things this summer. We’ve had some pretty mild and pleasant weather and we’ve also had a fair amount of company. The first of these facts is remarkable because we live in Oregon and, in spite of that fact, these events somehow happened simultaneously. Dependably nice weather, aka not raining, is hard to come by in these parts. Knowing that we were going to have company, and knowing that our seating arrangements for a dinner-time experience are limited, I bought a couple of plastic folding tables, made a couple of tablecloths and some table runners, and waited for the guests to appear.


My new tablecloth and runners!

It is a known fact that I like to cook. It is also quite true that I like to cook for the masses. With all of these things coming together at once, it has made for a lovely summer of eating on the patio with friends and family. It is also possible that these events allow the odds to be stacked a little more in my favor as to menu selection as the majority rules, with entrée selection. In other words, the pickiest eaters in my group are directed to eat around the objectionable items, such as kale salad or chocolate cake.

But all this joy is not meant to happen without a downside. Like many folks, our summers of blissful dining al fresco seemed to be plagued by the damnable yellow jackets. They infiltrate our somewhat peaceful existence and seem to cause a level of distress among diners that make for anything but a relaxed mealtime. And then there is the ever-present fly swatter that my dear Dad likes to use as the second line of defense against these beasts. His first option is the brown bag. He uses a small, sack lunch-sized bag, blows air into it so that it is full, uses a string or twist-tie on the end, and sets in the bushes somewhere near where we are eating.  This is supposed to mimic a wasp’s nest, which is supposed to frighten the yellow jackets away. If you ask me, there is NOTHING that frightens a yellow jacket.

In order to avoid Dad’s third choice in the eradication of the yellow jackets, which would be insecticide, I have my own plan. I have done this for years and I have pretty good luck. It does pair nicely with my own personal hospitality goals, even though it results in the untimely demise of our uninvited dinner guests.

I have a moderate selection of plastic containers that have been given a second life prior to their toss into the recycle bin.


Yellow jacket traps in the clothesline.  Redneck, but effective.

If need be (in the case of the ketchup bottle) I cut the top off, so that I have access to the inside.  I poke a hole in each side close to the top of the container.


Yellow jacket trap


I thread a bamboo skewer through this hole, and attach a raw or cooked (small) piece of meat to this skewer with a twist tie. I put a couple of inches of apple cider vinegar, and a drop or two of liquid dish soap (to break the surface tension) and set these around up high…..near where we are eating…..but not within reach of any kids or curious adults. (or possibly Stella, although she hasn’t seemed interested)  The yellow jackets arrive. They eat. This meal weighs them down. In their attempt to leave my little diner of sorts, the take-off maneuver begins (and ends) with a downward fall. They land in the water. Since they don’t swim, they don’t leave. Ever.


Yellow jacket trap with “guests” taking an eternal swim.

And, there you have it. If, in fact, you wish to try my “kountry method” of pest control, I’ll pass on a couple of helpful hints:

  1. I have been known to stockpile fatty meat remnants for just such events.
  2. I have also used our apple cider in the traps when I have been desperate. (or, out of apple cider vinegar….or both)
  3. You do need to re-bait the traps every 24 hours. The vinegar continues to work, the meat seems to loose it’s “attractiveness.”
  4. Use plastic covered twist ties. It makes #3 much easier.
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