Freezing won’t kill bittersweet, only burning will – Gloucester Daily Times

What am I going to do with the bittersweet on the table for decoration? Or with that wreath of bittersweet hanging on the door?

A: As beautiful as it is, bittersweet is an invasive species and must be treated carefully so you aren’t guilty of spreading the seeds around the neighborhood.

When you are through with bittersweet, don’t throw it on the compost heap, where it will live and thrive forever — or could be eaten by the birds and carried far and wide.

The best way to rid yourself of bittersweet is to burn the branches, or place them carefully in a dark-colored trash bag and leave in the sun until next summer. The dark bag will absorb the heat and kill the seeds. Heat kills the seeds — freezing weather won’t!

How can I kill a nest of paper wasps that have taken up residence in a dense evergreen very near the front doorway? You can hear them buzzing as you duck into the house. Luckily we have managed to keep them outside — almost! Two or three have snuck in every year. Help! I don’t want to call in a professional exterminator but I’m afraid I will have to!

A: Give it one more try, starting with a can of bug killer.

Locate the paper wasp nest during the day and determine the entry points in the nest. Entry points need the most attention during the pesticide application process.

Put on all your protective clothing, including pants, long-sleeve shirt, shoes, gloves, goggles and any other clothing item that protects your body. Even though paper wasps are relatively docile compared to other types of wasps, they can still become agitated and sting. Protect yourself from head to toe with full-body covering.

Spray the nest with aerosol pesticide at night. Paper wasps are calmer during the night and have poor vision. A nighttime extermination process reduces the chances of being stung. Use a ladder to reach the nest if necessary.

Place a plastic bag over the nest and slip it behind. Paper wasp nests are fragile and are cleaned off the structure to which they’re attached with little effort.

Tie the plastic bag tightly to prevent the escape of surviving wasps. Place that plastic bag in another and tie tightly for added protection. Discard the plastic bags in an outdoor trashcan (do not bring the bag into your home).

Repeat if necessary. Spray the nest location with the aerosol pesticide. Paper wasps not in the nest will return to the nest site and make contact with the pesticide, effectively killing the remaining members of the colony.

Sweep any dead paper wasps from the ground. Discard the wasps in a plastic bag.

North Shore Gardener by Barbara Barger is a periodic feature of Friday’s Living section. Reach Barbara at [email protected] or send a self-stamped, self-addressed envelope to her c/o Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930. Previous North Shore Gardener columns can be found at

Freezing won’t kill bittersweet, only burning will – Gloucester Daily Times
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