Thursday, January 1, 2009

Wasps on the grape vine

When we moved into this house several months ago, we inherited two grape vines, which we were delighted about. They run across the perimeter of our yard, one at the front and one at the back. The one in our front yard, which bears red grapes, was already out of season when we moved in, but there was still a bounty of white grapes in our back yard. Here is a picture of our white grapes, at the end of season.These home-grown grapes tasted better than any store-bought variety I ever tasted. They had rich, honey-sweet flavor, and you could easily tell they were allowed to grow and ripen properly.

Growing grapes is an excellent choice for an area like ours, where water is scarce and every drop must be conserved. A grape vine is sturdy and resistant to drought, and generally doesn't require a lot of water. Last year was Sabbatical - which means the previous residents of this house did no watering at all - and there was still an abundance of excellent grapes, which makes me wonder if we should water at all this season, and how much. I think most people in Israel don't water their grapes - even though there's generally no rain from May through October - and I've heard this method is practiced in other areas of the world as well, known as "dry farming".

The only drawback is that last season, our grapes attracted large numbers of huge, nasty wasps, who seemed to like grapes as much as we do. We were in competition with them - either we picked the grapes as soon as we could, or they sucked the juice out of the fruit, leaving empty shells. Beside the obvious damage, they look like the sort of insect you don't want to have near you. Even hanging the laundry in our back yard was an adventure; the wasps, apparently, were attracted by bright colors, so when I tried to hang out a set of yellow and orange sheets, I quickly had to dodge back inside to avoid the disgusting creatures.

I dread their return next season; we tried asking several farmers what we can do about them, but got no advice except to find their nest and destroy it, which has been unsuccessful so far - it's obviously not in our yard. If any of you had to deal with this sort of pests and has advice for us, it will be greatly appreciated.

... Everything is going on as usual here. I'm feeling particularly energetic in the last few days, so I'm taking advantage of it while I can. I did quite a bit of cleaning, washing, cooking, baking, and worked on some organizational projects and some crafts, and also repacked my hospital bag, discarded a few items and added others. We will be away for Shabbat, which means I had to prepare the house for our return - I think few things are more discouraging than coming back to a messy house after you've been gone for a couple of days. Especially if, like us, you think there's a possibility you might come back with a new baby.

We are praying for a safe, easy delivery, and healthy baby and Mom. Hope to share good news with all of you soon.

Mrs. T


Anonymous said...

You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I can hardly wait to hear about your new precious baby! I hope you bless us with pictures.

Many Blessings,

Sparkly said...


If you get a moment some time can you explain what is meant by a Sabbatical year?


Anonymous said...

When my husband and I moved into our house there were several wasp nests. We were told to purchase one of those fake wasp nests at the hardware store and hang it from our porch. Supposedly, the wasps will see it and avoid the area believing there is already a wasp nest there. I wish I could tell you whether or not it worked, but we won't have a chance to try it until Spring.

Morag said...

Dear Anna,
Wasp traps. There's no other way. We have yellowjackets in the late summer and early fall and they are all over the raspberries and ripening plums. Locate the traps away from the house. Anything that attracts stinging insects close to a house is a hazard to small children. A dozen or so stings could put them into anaphylatic shock.

Anonymous said...

I do not know if they have them there... but wasp jars or other attractants do cut down on wandering wasps. (Jars the wasps can get into but not out of, they usually are set up so they drown in the sugar-water that attracted them).

Best of luck with your babe to be! :)


Andrea said...

I don't know if wasps are the same where you are as they are where we are, but I will take a chance that they might be!

Wasps are something of a double bind because while they can be pests they are also enormously beneficial to a gardener, since they prey on other (insect) pests. My uncle loves them because they destroy the grubs and caterpillars that would eat his blueberry crops, so he has a very firm personal policy against eradicating wasps unless they are well beyond the point of mere nuisance-- as it sounds like yours have become!

There is something you can do that will keep the wasps away without actually killing them, and that is buy a fake wasp nest. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?! But garden stores (in this area, anyway) sell fake wasp nests that can be hung in the area you want to defend, causing the wasps to give the area wide berth.

(you could also likely make such a thing on your own by inflating and hanging a paper bag, if you felt so inclined, but I am not sure if that would be as successful or not)

I am so glad to hear you are feeling well right now, and I want you to know that I am certainly joining you in those prayers for your delivery and your family as well.

ROSIE said...


We too have trouble with wasp nests we can't find (some varieties nest in the ground). One thing that's helped is using a very friendly and old-fashioned wasp trap that is basically a glass bottle with a bit of sugar water in it to attract the wasps, as they like sweet things...and the bottle is constructed in such a way so they can fly in, but not out.--though it can be emptied. It might be something to try!

Many prayers for you and your husband and the little one waiting to be born...

Ways of Zion said...

Can you get wasp traps in Israel? They work well we get the "raid" brand and they work great, we tried the no-name brand that just traps them last year but it didn't work so well. The "Raid" ones have a liquid in them that instantly kills the wasps.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

As far as the wasps go, I've seen people use bee traps which look like plastic bags. I think you put sugar water or some other sweet liquid in them. The bees go in to get the liquid and then can't get back out. HJ

Anonymous said...

That burst of energy means the baby is coming SOON. :)

Kittee said...

Ahhh wasps! I am allergic so I've spent my entire life dodging those little buggers.

I hope this link helps!

It's a link to natural wasp control. Basically is a page full of humane safe trap ideas for capturing them.

It really helps!

Many Blessings!

Bethany Hudson said...

Continued prayers as you near the end of your pregnancy--and your intiation into motherhood! I can't wait for the exciting news!!

I'm sorry to hear about your wasp problem. They really are pests. Perhaps you could find a natural repellant that would deter them? Whenever we have a yard of our own, I would love to grow my own grapes. The ones at the store just don't come close to homegrown.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

We had problems with wasps continually starting nests under our sundeck. Then we hung up a "waspinator" (,51555&ap=1} and not a single wasp tried to build a nest under there again. (My grandchildren are afraid of the waspinator. They can not be convinced that wasps are not inside!) I don't know if it would keep wasps away from the vines, though.

Another idea is to trap as many as possible. There are several sites on the internet with ideas for homemade traps. I don't know if that would make a significant difference, though.

I know that wasps are important to the environment but they sure are nasty creatures to live with!

Elizabeth said...

Wasp bites can be very painful!

Have you looked for their nest under the eaves of your house? Also, if you have a frame for your clothesline that has a hollow pipe, they may be nesting in there.

Thuis en onderweg said...

Dear mrs. T,

best wishes for 2009 and we wish you the blessing of our heavenly Father for the new season of your life that´s approaching!

About the wasps: you said the nest(s) was obviously not in your yard. Could it be it´s hidden under the roof of your house or any of the houses in the neighbourhood? You might have checked this already or wasps might not choose that place in your country (they do in ours :-)), but maybe this idea is useful. My brother even once discovered a nest in his sports shoe (by sticking in his toes, so that was rather painful :-)).



Tracy said...

Dear Anna,
You come to mind and my prayers each time I log on to the internet and read of the violence happening there. I pray you are safe in your home, or with family. May the Lord keep you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes to you both. Good luck with your labour and birth, I hope it is not a difficult one.
Looking forward to hearing about your little baby.

Rachel said...

If you can't find the nest, the only thing I can say is to make sure you don't leave your clothes on the line very long. This summer I was hanging out clothes and I forgot and left a pair of my husband's overalls outside overnight, and when he put them on the next day the wasps had already built a tiny nest in there and he got stung. A lot.

Bethany W. said...

Mrs. T,

I just found your blog today. I am in the US, and I am completely fascinated by this post (because I love geography/agriculture/people etc)

I see that you are expecting very soon. I wish you much joy with this coming baby!


Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know that I am praying for you and the safe arrival of your precious little one.

Have a Blessed day,
love, Tina :)

Jnette said...

I love your blog :) !!
The grapes look yummy! I hope to plant a nice sized garden this year (Apr/May). I am considering grapes too, but after reading this I will plant them away from the house.

Civilla said...

Looking forward to baby. God bless.

the voice of melody said...

How exciting that you'll soon be blessed with your first little one!
I hope the rest of your pregnancy goes smoothly and that you'll soon be home with your precious new baby. :)

Michelle said...

I will be praying for a wonderful delivery!

I just googled natural wasp deterrant and this is one of the links I found
The top of the page isn't too helpful since it details how to keep them out of the house, but down farther it describes how to make wasp traps out of 2 liter soda bottles. May be make a few and hang them near your grape arbor? There's also that "waspinator" for sale for $10 that looks like a wasps nest and repels them up to 20' because they think that's other wasp territory.

lady jane said...

I'm praying for you and your dear family, Anna. For the birth of your precious child and for your safety in a region torn with such deep challenges. May you know HIS presence and love at this time.

Bless you.

Melissa said...

I also just wanted to let you know that you and your family (and friends) are in my thoughts and prayers. I'm watching the news, and hope all is well in your area.

Anonymous said...

Anna, perhaps the nest is in the soil. That would make it harder to locate. Anyway, try to catch one of the wasps & have it identified...then maybe you will have an easier time finding the best means of control (or "seek & destroy", if need be).

So hoping that your last several days of waiting for baby are comfortable & stress-free for you. God's blessings!


She's So There said...

Praying for your safety and peace, for the first of many healthy children and for continued favor and blessing in all that you do...let us hear from you as you can, though I know its a busy time for you and yours...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the habitat of the wasp might be observed at a particular part of the day.

Here in the US we would contact an Extension agent associated with local agriculture organization, but you might use the internet to identify wasp characteristics e.g. if they're paper wasps, mud daubers, build their nests underground, swarm in the evening, etc. We observed that wasps near our paw paw trees seemed to swarm in the evening, emerging from the lawn nearby. When the time came to transplant some seedlings, contact of the shovel blade with the colony resulted in an angry attack on my unsuspecting and unprotected husband's bald head, and welts even on his legs where he was stung through the fabric of his trousers. But, then, I went off to purchase a can of insecticide which advertised its product safety to humans. We've had no problems since. And, the paw paws are more delicious each year.

When my husband was a child in the Orient, figs and persimmons were grown in the courtyard. He said it was quite amusing to watch the line of ants climb the fig trees when they were ripe.

There are about 20 vintners in our state of Indiana, so conditions are right for grapes as well as other berries.

It's an admirable thing to wait to see what is growing well when moving to a new house, and not want to tear down existing food crops. Unfortunately, some peoples still use tactics of crop destruction in warlike actions.

Continue to keep focused and take care for the health and safety of your little one, and your family.


Anonymous said...

This sounds strange, but if you take a plastic milk jug, cut large holes in the sides for the wasps to come in through, fill the bottom with some soapy water, and hang a little bit of meat in there (hot dog meat works really well) the wasps will fly in, eat too much, fall in the water and die. Gruesome but effective. Hang the container by the grapes. My family used to protect our plum orchard this way.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Thanks for your suggestions, everyone!

For those who don't know, a Sabbatical year means that every 7-th year, land must be given rest, and plants are not to be watered, pruned, fertilized, etc. It only applies to Israel.

Rose said...

Mrs. T,
Have you thought of getting a few chickens? Our bug population went way down once we had chickens in the yard. Not sure how they would do with wasps. We used to have a lot and now have very few, so maybe it is the chickens.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Rose, yes, we've been thinking about getting chickens (disregarding the wasps). It just requires a bit more planning, especially now that we noticed there are foxes around.

Marivene said...

I found your blog searching for a way to deal with the wasps on our grapes this year. I thought I would pass along that the wasps do not appear until the day begins to warm up. At my hours, that means that until 8 am, the vines have no wasps & I can pick the grapes with no problems. I can also pick if there is a medium wind, stronger than what the wasps can handle to fly. I assumed that if the wasps are sucking out the insides of the grapes, they are ripe enough to pick, so over the last 4 days, I have picked almost all the grapes from my vine, & am processing them as fast as I can.

Jenee Vie said...

This is an excellent post on grapes farming. Anyway, controlling wasps spread and attacks is a serious thing, but I found a homemade wasp trap solution that's eco-friendly and effective. Frustrated wasp sufferers should try it.