Tips from our readers.
With spring just around the bend, it won't be long before we will again be playing host to lots of uninvited insect guests. And, among these, wasps can be especially troublesome . . . or downright nasty! So let's look at a triad of suggestions offered by (and for) MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers.
The first tip comes from Robert Grinarml of Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania. Bob says that folks whose nearby neighbors would not be disturbed by the sound of a shotgun blast can literally "blow" wasp nests out of hard-to-reach places (like second-story eaves) . . . and do it from a wasp-safe distance. Bob says, "Cut about an eighth of an inch off the top of a shotgun shell and dump out the pellets. Now, just load up your trusty scattergun with the de-shotted shell and blast the offending nest. The wadding (the paper or plastic material that separates the shot from the powder) will knock the nest down without doing any damage to your house."
But Mr. Grinarml goes on to caution, "A hasty retreat may be in order, though, if you score a direct hit on an occupied nest!"
Non gunners might be interested in the method Dave Kooyers of Boonville, California uses to rid his outbuildings of hornets. "I bought a five-pound bag of `burning' sulfur at the local farm supply store," Dave reports, "and carted it home. When hornets set up in my sheds, I crumple some paper into the bottom of an empty coffee can and dump about half a cup of sulfur on top of the paper. Next, I place the can in an old skillet and set the frypan on the floor of the hornet-infested building. After making sure that nothing burnable is nearby, I light the paper, close the door, and stay away from the building for a day or more (humans can't stand the noxious sulfur fumes any more than hornets can!).
"The smoke fumes will drive out all bugs and keep them away long after the odor has disappeared."
A third Hymenoptera -fighting strategy was submitted by Ross Westergaard of Surrey, British Columbia. Our Canadian friend writes, "The town houses in our neighborhood are flat-roofed, with only a two-foot crawl space for an attic. Wasps gained access to one of these spaces through a small hole, and pretty soon over 200 of them had set up housekeeping! Now I'm usually one to live and let live, but these flying critters weren't about to hold up their end of that bargain. In fact, they got so pugnacious that it was dangerous to step outside the front door or open the upstairs windows.
"Liquid sprays were out of the question, since they could soak through the ceiling. Gas would have necessitated evacuating both our and the neighbors' houses for at least a day . . . and would have been too expensive.
"Well, we got four coils of old-fashioned flypaper and pinned them to the eaves near the wasps' entrance hole (we used a long pole to put the strips in place). The sticky stuff was up for no more than a few minutes before it started collecting wasps. Within three days, over a hundred of the pesky insects were stuck. And by the end of a week, they were all gone."
Darlene Wagner of Grants Pass, Oregon has some tips for handling newborn bunnies. Darlene, who has raised rabbits for 15 years, says, "One of the most critical things to do to assure the health of a new litter of bunnies is to check the nest box soon after the kindling in order to remove any dead babies, afterbirth, or blood. However, if a litter is touched during the first few days by human hands, too often the doe either will refuse to reenter the nest box or—worse yet—will kill the entire litter.
"But I learned a trick to avoid this (from my 90-year-old rabbit-raising friend): Just sprinkle talcum or baby powder on your hands and rub a little of it on the doe's tummy. Now you can safely handle the newborn as much as necessary to clean out the nest box without the slightest worry that the doe will neglect or destroy her young."
"I've lived two years in my 18' tipi here in the Colorado Rockies at 7,000 feet," writes Paul Moore of LaPlata County, Colorado, "and the only problems I've run up against have had to do with a shortage of indoor living space and the lack of electricity for refrigeration of food. After some meditation, I helped solve both problems by digging a rectangular pit in the ground inside my tipi, lining it with thick, aluminum-backed insulation panels, then lowering in my big chest-type ice cooler. Now, the cooler is out of the way, giving me additional room to move . . . and all I have to do to use it is to throw back the braided rug that covers the floor of my tipi, lift up the piece of plywood that's over the pit, and remove the lid of the ice chest. As a bonus, the insulation and subfloor location triple the time it takes for a block of ice to melt."
Have the backs of your car's or truck's bucket seats got those frazzled, worn-out blues? If so, Shane Jones of Oklahoma City has a quick, inexpensive remedy. "When the backs of my Toyota's bucket seats started to wear, I just stretched a couple of old T-shirts over them (with the tops of the seat backs protruding through the neck holes) to make my own unique upholstery . . . and to save dropping more than a few pennies at the local tuck-and-roll shop. At first, the neighbors snickered when they saw them, but I've noticed lately that many of their car seats are starting to dress in T-shirts, too!"
Elizabeth England of Slocum, Rhode Island has come up with an herbal dandruff cure that she'd like to share with the rest of us. To brew her cure, Elizabeth mixes 1 gallon of boiling water with 2 ounces of chamomile and a 2-inch ginger root, coarsely grated. Next, she lets the blend stand until cool, then pours it into smaller bottles. Elizabeth reports that her herbal cure cleared up a bad case of the white flakies in just three days . . . and offers the bonus of being an excellent hair detangler.
"Next time you clean your hairbrush," writes Mary Leck of Washington, Kansas, "don't throw the hair away. Instead, do what the pioneers did: Save it for a natural pincushion. Sounds dirty? Well, it's not, and the natural oils on the hair will keep your pins and needles rust-free and sharp. To make the cushion, just cut out a rectangular piece of closely woven cotton material . . . double the size you want your finished product to be. Then fold the rectangle in half and stitch up the two sides so you have a miniature `pillowcase'. Now, sew up the end, leaving a small opening at one side. Turn the cloth pouch inside out, and put hair from your comb in through the opening. I just pin the opening shut between 'stuffings', then sew it closed when the cushion is full.
"It's amazing, but I've actually found that diaper pins can be sharpened just by running them through this kind of a hair-filled pincushion a few times."