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Green Barbarians–Ellen Sandbeck

A Buddha A Day–Ellen Sandbeck


Dear Ellen,

We have been having a really hot, dry summer, and my raspberry patch is so full of yellow jackets that I can't even enter it to pick the berries! Do you have any suggestions for me?

Jim, Island Lake, Minnesota

Dear Jim,

My raspberries have also been attacked by hungry yellow jackets. Drought conditions make life difficult for wildlife of all shapes and sizes, and hungry, thirsty animals are more likely to invade our backyards and gardens.

You might consider picking raspberries by moonlight, when the yellow jackets are asleep, and you might also want to try making wasp traps out of plastic soda bottles: fruity, strong-smelling soft drinks are the most suitable for traps, and since bees and wasps cannot see red, but can see yellow and blue, you might want to choose a yellow or blue beverage, if you can find one! Open the bottle and pour out about half of the liquid (I generally pour it into a lidded jar so I can save it for future insecticidal projects). Unsheathe your trusty razor knife and use it to sever the top of the pop bottle, cutting carefully, and as straight as possible, around the circumference of the bottle just below where the bottle's sides begin to go straight down. The removed top of the bottle forms a funnel, which when turned upside down, should fit nicely into the columnar lower part of the bottle without falling in. If the funnel does tend to fall into the bottle, use a couple of staples to hold the funnel in place. Place the half-full bottle trap on the ground near your raspberry patch. If you are lucky, some wasps will be enticed away from your raspberries. Generally, however, it is more efficient to place wasp traps before the wasps become a problem, rather than after. Next year I plan to put out wasp traps before my raspberries ripen. I also pledge to vote solely for politicians who believe in global warming!

Environmentally yours,



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