SOS: Middleton park eliminates possible sting operation –

SOS was called in for a sting operation this past week.

David Turner set it up. Cal Haack carried the big stick.

Here’s how it went down:

In late May, Turner took his 2-year-old daughter, Masaki, to play at a little park in the 7100 block of Hubbard Avenue in Middleton. It does not have a name, but the park has nice playground equipment and a big grassy play area.

The equipment includes a set of steps a child climbs to get to the good stuff — slide, ramp — and just where she would put her hand when climbing the stairs, was a hole, about 2 inches diameter. In that hole Turner saw the sort of scary-movie face a parent, child, kid-mowing-the-lawn, does not want to see. It is the face of a wasp, a hornet, a yellow jacket.

Turner said he called and left a message with the city’s “public lands/park person.

“I left another message in June and again in July, each time in a different mailbox, the last time in the general (Middleton) city hall mailbox.”

No one from city hall or parks responded to any of the messages, he said.

Having waited two months, and with the wasp nest still there, he contacted SOS, included two high-resolution photographs, and asked for help.

SOS, consulting the photograph and Google map, thought that perhaps this was not a city park, but a school district park. So SOS started with the knowledgeable Bill Eberhardt, at the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District.

He looked at the map and said it was definitely a city park, and suggested contacting Cal Haack, at the Middleton Parks Department.

SOS called Haack.

“It’s been a great year for wasp nests on playgrounds, under bleachers and benches, the fences on the tennis courts, our kiosks, just about anywhere they can find a hole,” said Haack, who quickly identified the playground.

“That’s why you see me carrying a stick and banging on stuff, to see if there are any wasps active,” he said.

SOS emailed Haack the photographs Tuesday, and Tuesday afternoon Haack called to say the wasp nest was gone, problem solved. Haack said it has been difficult keeping up with the wasps this year, and he generally sprays and then closes the hole with expanding foam.

Eminent entomologists consulted over the past summers by reporters looking for what’s-the-deal-with-all-these-wasps stories have noted that colonies start small and end up big by the end of summer as the queen lays more eggs. The worker population explodes and they get hungry, go out exploring, get into fights and sting (several times) some innocent guy mowing the lawn, sitting next to the ketchup or helping a daughter on a playground slide.

German yellow jackets tend to nest in structures and are attracted to food and drink, especially soda pop. Powdered insecticide is probably best to kill them in structures, applied at the entrance in the evening so the returning yellow jackets tromp through the fatal dust.

The best advice SOS could find was to avoid swatting them, because that just makes them mad and they sting with provocation. Freezing temperatures kill them, too.

SOS: Middleton park eliminates possible sting operation –
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