Warm weather and wasps

Dec 26, 2011

As we drove towards Lori’s house Christmas morning, the sun burnished the wet streets to a blinding gold. It was wickedly warm, not at all like the Christmas day weather we are accustomed to, and this lent the day an aura of unreality.

Today, the sun is still blazing down shrinking the snow and exposing the plant crowns to the inevitable frost to come. I never cut my plants back until spring so that the stalks will capture snow cover, but even so, the sun has done its work around them very efficiently. The plants sit in naked rings, the snow shrunk away where the darkness of the stalks has attracted heat.



Wasp (image borrowed from Wikipedia)

Yesterday, our high efficiency furnace sent us a disturbing message, “System Malfunctioning, on our sophisticated thermostat. The last time this happened, we called in the people who sold us the furnace five years ago. The repairman diagnosed wasps in the air exhaust pipes. He said he would hear them and wanted to cut the pipe open. His boss said, “No! We’re not covered if you get stung.”  We called in the exterminators. They said all they could do was to put some wasp bait near the exhaust opening outside and hope the wasps would take it inside to kill their fellows.

Frustrated, Glenn cut the pipe open himself (although we could hear no wasps) and he found nothing, yet the furnace continued to malfunction and apparently there were high levels of gasses being exuded by the furnace. “Buy a new furnace advised the company. “Not bloody likely,” said Glenn, after spending $5,000 such a short time past, and he called in the gas company. They detected the same noxious mess coming from the exhaust and ordered the furnace shut down.

It was late fall by this time and getting colder. Glenn called in another company. This one said, “There is definitely something wrong with the heat exchanger. “We will have to take the entire furnace apart.” Glenn nodded. What else could he do?

Several hours and a thousand dollars later, the truth was revealed. It was indeed wasps, but not in the pipes. Instead there was a tremendous build up of wasp bodies in the heat exchanger, which was completely destroyed.

We had it replaced and the furnace was repaired, but now, in light of the warning message, I can’t help but wonder if there were wasps hiding somewhere else in the pipes, perhaps awakened by the warm weather.

Ironically, the gas company has a rule against putting a screen on the outdoor openings of these systems. We may have to ignore the rule.

Now, if you are reading this from somewhere outside of Manitoba, you may well ask, “So what if the company has a rule?” but this is a province where the gas utility is a crown corporation owned by the province and they have a lot of clout. Their “rules” are basically “laws”.

This is not the first time their rules have affected us. Several years ago, they shut down our pool heater because it was within nine feet of a neighbour’s window. The pool heater had been in place for 25 years, but the rules had changed and we had no recourse. We have never replaced it because moving the heater the requisite number of feet from the window would put it in the middle of our back yard, smack amongst the roots of a Philadelphus that scents the garden every spring

I cut down the shrub this past fall because it was overgrown and woody. Who knows? Maybe it attracted the wasps.


January 5, 2012

P.S.  A week later and the heater is back up and running and, so far, no wasps have emerged, even though the Winnipeg temperature today is an amazing 7 degrees C (45 F)! The weather has, however, awakened a lazy ladybug that was hiding somewhere in one of the tropicals that spent the summer outside. We are all in a state of stupor here in our town with this balmy weather. The usual average temperature in January here is -17 C . . .





14 thoughts on “Warm weather and wasps

  1. Very much a story that could very well be from my home!!
    Thank you for visiting my blog and I LOVE YOURS!
    Can’t wait to get lost in the archives.

  2. Tracy says:

    The wasp story is so funny but the furnace needing such costly repairs is not although I can relate to being at the mercy of repair companies and “breaking” the odd rule myself. I am also a Winnipegger and am worried about my bulbs rotting yet another spring finding mush where wonderful tubers were planted with high hopes of beautiful flowers emerging.
    This fall I put them in sideways just in case there is allot of water again, on your advice, thank you Dorothy. I’m the one who lost the most wonderful plant in my whole garden my Giant German Bearded Iris, so dark purple it looked black. It was a gift from my Mom when we moved into our home, 16 years ago. I have never gotten so emotional about a plant but the previous summer it had 41 gynormous blooms. I should have divided it but I lacked the confidence, no more, I divide and conquer now! Saves on the tears later.
    P.S. What’s with this weird weather, I feel for the Polar Bears.

    • Amazing what a few wasps can do. Sorry about your iris.I do understand how you feel, though, and I empathize. Wet years are hard on bulbs and rhizomes and it is so hard when a plant attached a memory succumbs. Don’t be afraid to divide! It keeps plants young.

  3. Kevin says:

    I feel your pain when it comes to flying pests. Two summers ago, I heard a buzzing in the wall — wasps had gotten inside and were quite happy. An exterminator did an amazing job — and not another buzz since. It also seems that no matter where you live, there is always some sort of regulation to get in the way of common sense. Enjoy the warmth while it lasts!

  4. […] Warm weather and wasps (gardeningcanuck.wordpress.com) +10    This entry was posted in Alberta, Autumn, Blog Link, Hymenoptera, Insect, macro and tagged hornets, nest, stings, wasps. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « Deadly Gentian My First Tiger » […]

  5. jeanne says:

    Wasps are no joking matter…they can wreck havoc in so many ways. My husband and I were recently discussing the honeybees that are feasting on the sugarsnap pea flowers in our garden and its January.

  6. Bridget says:

    In Ireland the weather is also unusually balmy. 10c today…this time last year we had snow and hard frost.

  7. Jack says:

    I think I’d be a rule breaker, and sneak out on a dark night to slip a little piece of screen over that pipe. Glad you got the insects out of your heat supply. Your pictures are great too..it looks very pretty there!

  8. Bob says:

    Hi Dorthy, thanks for popping by my little piece of the Winnipeg blogging scene.
    I keep trying to find other “peggers” that blog to follow so I am incredibly happy to make your acquaintance.

    It looks like Festival may be a write off this year with all the warm weather but I hope not I do look forward to all of the great sculptures.

    Take care and happy writing.

  9. Granny says:

    It is always a pleasure, as well as a lesson, to hear the stoic, peaceful account of a situation that is otherwise beyond frustrating, even bordering on unfair. As you say, we nod, what else can we do? The weather is puzzling here as well, in New England, but surely that does not explain the lack of common sense or the inflexibility of some of the rules and laws we humans invent in an effort to stay safe and warm. Perhaps like the weather we could learn to be less predictable! Great post.

  10. […] weather is puzzlingly warm in Canada as it is here in New England. In “Warm weather and wasps,” The Gardening Canuck offers a stoic and peaceful account of a situation that is otherwise […]

  11. Lawn care says:

    It was a nightmare with moles when I had my last lawn care season, we lived very close to the
    local woods so it really was expected…nevertheless the moles managed to wreck any kind of
    upkeep I did

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