Nature vs. Replacing Outdoor Lighting

Light Fixture Full of Wasps

Since moving into our ’62 Eichler, I have been slowly upgrading various bits of infrastructure. This weekend, my goal was to rip out the 30+ year old rusted porch light fixture that illuminated about 30% of the chimney and that was only if the bloody thing worked. Useless. Must die.

Unfortuntely, a quick glance with a flashlight revealed quite the extended family of wasps had taken up residence in the fixture. Now, normally, leaving the light on for a few hours would be enough to drive the wasps out. Not so, in this case, as I had long ago replaced the existing watt-burner wth a compact florescent that did not sit well in the ancient socket and, thus, did not work.

So… me vs. the wasp mob.

Fortunately, the nest seemed relatively docile (No clue why– doubled the paranoid factor). And, thus, I was able to slip a freezer bag around the entire fixture and zip-loc it at the top (Christine’s rather brilliant idea — of course, did she volunteer to do the actual baggin?!?! No way!). Insufficient the zip seemed, so I added a couple o’ layers of duct tape. Bit of a difference between “shake shake spill” with food vs. “shake shake spill-oh-crap-i’m-six-feet-up-a-ladder-with-dozens-of-wasps-looking-to-kill-me”.

Wasps in Bag Close Up

Wasps apparently aren’t really into the whole “nest in a bag thing”.

After unscrewing the fixture from the junction box — a tense moment as I had no idea whether or not the wasps could pass through the junction box — the nest went straight from “docile” to “exceedingly pissed”.

Now, I really don’t have anything against wasps. Paper wasps don’t sting — they have a really nasty bite — and, thus, do not tend to cause allergic reactions. They are voracious eaters of all kinds of garden pests.

As well, the wasps are generally non-aggressive. This family had been living on our porce for quite a while. Roger had been bitten once, but he likes to catch the wasps. With his bare hands. Quite good at it, too — knows how to hold ’em so they can’t bite him. Mostly.

They are only really aggressive in the fall after the first few cold nights or first frost. Then their food supply crashses and the wasps get a bit desperate. I’m not exactly sure what wasps due during the winter.

Anyway, I didn’t really want to kill the wasps.

I left the bagged nest in a protected spot until the temperature (and their oxygen levels) dropped off a bit. Once the family calmed down a bit, I took ’em out to the fron yard and cut a corner off zip lock and shook the wasps out on the ground. Amazing, the entire group of wasps crawled off — didn’t fly — and disappeared within 15 minutes.

It’ll be interesting to see if they show up at the location of the new lamp tomorrow. Fortunately, it is relatively wasp proof and, since it works, it’ll deter their return. Unfortunately, one of the stupid spot CFLs I installed burned out within 10 minutes of being turned on and that side of the fixture is currently quite welcoming to the little buggers.

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3 Responses to “Nature vs. Replacing Outdoor Lighting”

  1. Scott Peters says:

    Normally I’d be interested in a really new and novel way to kill off an annoying wasp nest but was rather pleased you let them chill out and then crawl away when they were ready. Good for you! I do certainly hope they don’t take up a new home in your latest light fixture.

  2. Daniel Jalkut says:

    Man, you and the wasps!

    Say what you will about the funky conical lamp fixture, but its shape sure did lend itself to ziplocking 🙂

  3. Chris Masto says:

    Just happened to come across this as I was thinking about bulbs. I don’t know if you’ve found “outdoor” CFLs, but that seems to do the trick for me, in terms of not burning out upon exposure to nature.

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