Spider webs and wasps nests: Unexpected hazards near the washing line

One of our nocturnal spiders

Do you remember the posts I wrote about the two nocturnal spiders who make their nest every evening between our carport roof and the washing line, or thereabouts?

Well, I think one of them has left, whereas the other one is definitely larger than it was before. I’m not sure if that means something. Anyway.

Every night, the remaining spider (did I mention that it’s now larger than it was before?) weaves a beautifully intricate web that hangs down from the washing line. Usually, the web is gone in the morning (I’ve heard that spiders may actually eat their own webs?), but sometimes it is still there. I wonder if that only happens if no insects flew past the web, and if Spidey thus went to bed hungry.

Um. Not a happy thought that.

This morning’s spiderweb hanging from the washing line

Looooong sticky threads stretch from the washing line across to the carport roof, down to the rear bumper of the car, and onto the tarmac below. I know this because I have gotten snagged by those damn sticky threads gerdozens of times, and I hate it! One spends the rest of the morning wiping hands frantically across one’s face, and through one’s hair, and one still has the feeling that there are sticky spider-threads stuck somewhere!


Now where was I?

Oh, right. I wanted to tell you about another insect that has moved in.

Something is living and breeding in the cross-bar of our washing line

I was sitting on the steps outside the backdoor, bathing in the sunshine, sipping a cup of tea and engrossed in a Tim und Struppi comic book (English-speaking people know this as Tintin), while Tuffy was stretched out full length in the sun, fluffy white tummy turned upwards to absorb as much of the spring sunshine as possible. Something flew past my line of vision, and up towards the cross-bar of the washing line.

Unsure what I’d seen, I dismissed it as just an insect, and continued reading.

A moment later, there was flurry of movement at the end of the cross-bar, something red emerged from the end of the open pipe, and flew lazily past me, en route to the back garden.

“Was that a red wasp?” I asked Tuffy.

She gazed up at me, still upside down, and blinked sleepily.

The red insect flew past again, and disappeared into the end of the cross-bar, which is a hollow pipe.

A moment later, it flew past me again, towards the back garden.

This couldn’t be a good sign. I got up to investigate, cautiously… from a distance… and thought I could see something stuck inside the pipe. It looked like a grey-brown mass with holes in it.

Look, I’ll zoom in for you – can you see the wasp nest inside there?



This was not good!

I retreated indoors. I was willing to tolerate bees in our garden because they pollinate the flowers and make honey. But wasps?? Red wasps can sting. And unlike bees, they don’t die. They can sting again and again and again….!

That evening, hubby decided that he’d try to smoke ’em out!

He shoved a piece of Blitz firelighter, together with some smoke-causing leaves and grasses into the back end of the pipe, and lit it, before sprinting indoors and shutting all the doors and windows. We watched from the safety of the kitchen, as the grass and leaves started to burn, and tendrils of smoke emerged from the far end of the pipe.

One or two wasps emerged, looking mildly puzzled by the warmth and the smoke… But that was it.

No mass exodus.

The aftermath of the unsuccessful wasp eviction

We have ended up with a metal cross-bar whose one end is smoke-blackened, slightly charred and in need of a fresh coat of paint, while the other continues to house a nest of wasps.

I googled this – afterwards – and found that this is one of the most common methods used by home owners who want to get rid of wasp-nests in their homes… And one of the most frequent causes of house fires.


Fortunately, our house is okay. But, less fortunately, so are the wasps.

And I’m really nervous of using the washing line at the moment, in case they remember my face peering out through the kitchen window during the Great (Unsuccessful) Smoke-Out.

They look pretty content, don’t they?

We’re open to suggestions.

Actually, if you feel like popping on over and evicting them for us, that would be even nicer. We’ll express our profoundest of gratitudes in the form of – depending on your preference – freshly brewed coffee, refreshing tea, plates of scrumptious cookies or slices of cake.

Any takers?

19 thoughts on “Spider webs and wasps nests: Unexpected hazards near the washing line

  1. Hey Reggie
    Let me know when the wasps have gone and I’ll take you up on the cup of tea πŸ™‚ I wonder if Margo Wilke (animal rescue and rehab) would have any bright ideas, or be brave enough to remove them for you? 082 480 5077

  2. About the spiders: Been looking at your older posts, and we have some which look just the same. I’ve also been practising my night-time spider photography – quite an art! You do realize of course that you may not be seeing the same spiders? They have fairly short life-spans – for most species less than two years, with the males not surviving as long as the females.

    The wasps: Good luck with that! We have had wasps in our yard since we moved here years ago. They keep coming back and nesting in a different place.

    • Re spiders’ short lifespans – really? I did not know that!

      As to photographing them at night – yes, it is really challenging! You need a good light source, a wind-free night, and lots of patience.

      As to the wasps – man, do I wish they would migrate somewhere else. We really try to welcome, accomodate and ‘allow’ all kinds of creatures to live in our garden, but wasps… hm… I don’t feel all that comfortable around them.

  3. We don’t have red wasps in the US — as far as I know, but wasps we do have. Farmers have problems with wasps nesting in their barns, and I noted we have wasps investigating, already, our new barn. We use sprays and spray directly on the nest— and we also use a hanging yellow container that contains an attractant for wasps. They fly in and can’t get out. I don’t enjoy killing animals, but wasps and rats, are two that must go if they are living inside the house or barn. When I say killing — I mean just getting rid of something because it s presence is inconvenient, because I do eat meat, and some of that meat we hunt or fish for.

    About the bigger spider– how about pregnant? Will have a 1000 little spiders come spring, which will sail of on threads to make homes elsewhere.

    • 1000 little spiders? Shudder… This isn’t helping…

      How do you spray the wasps without them launching a full-blown attack on you? Do you wear special clothing? We don’t even have ‘Doom’ or ‘Baygon’ in the house! I don’t know what to do…

  4. You can keep those wasp nests.

    I can remember several years ago when our oldest accidentally hit a meter box in our front yard. Inside the box was a wasp nest, and he was stung multiple times in the face before I can sprint over and carry him away.

  5. We DO have a type of red wasp here in the US, in the South. They look different than yours though. Some parts of the South say they’re quite aggressive. Here in Atlanta, our red wasps aren’t. They leave us alone and just go about their business. So, I haven’t felt the need to evict them. Sorry I don’t have a solution!

    • Thank you for the comment, Oregon Sunshine.

      Well, so far, our red wasps have left us alone too. It’s an uneasy truce from our side, though… I don’t want them to have a freak-out when I’m hanging up the washing, for instance. If I knew that they were generally calm and relaxed, I’d feel much better about their presence. We’re not much in favour of using poisons and pesticides in our garden, as the environment really has quite enough toxins to deal with already, without us adding to the load.

  6. That’s an amazing spider web.
    You should just call the exterminators to come get rid of the wasps. You know I did say a few posts back that I’m going to come over and have a cuppa tea with you in your yard. I’ve changed my mind. I’m allergic to wasp stings.

  7. Reggie: the 1000 little spiders was a bit of a joke. I was thinking of _Charlotte’s Web_ a children’s story– should have said that. About spraying the wasps–I only have a farmer’s recommendation on that– I have yet to do it. He told me — you just spray away– preferable in the early AM when they are heavy and slow. He says — no problem– but I don’t know FOR SURE. I agree with what another reader suggested– get a pro.

    As a child I tied my beagle to a pipe that had a wasps nest- and just the act of tying the leash around the piping made the wasps mad, and I was stung all over.

    Let us know how you get it taken care of.

    Reminds me of when our house was literally invaded by rats when my husband took our dogs away for three weeks on a hunting trip. I had to get a pro to help on that one. 😦


    • Sheesh….

      I think you’re right… we should look for a professional exterminator – though, not having used one before, I don’t quite know where to find one! They don’t advertise in the local telephone directory!

      • Look under pest control. Anything like that? Another approach might be to do a deep search on the Internet. Finally — neighbors and friends you can ask for recommendations?

  8. Hi Reggie,
    Im from South Africa and those 2 things that are bugging you so much is extremely common here. The First one not as much cause to me it looks like the Darwin’s Bark spider, go google it, its VERY interesting. One of the spiders with the biggest span of web, it can get up to 25metres. It was found 3 years ago in madagascar. Go have a look, we found one here on one of the Farms about 4 weeks ago.
    The second is the Red Wasp as you said, when they sting you it hurts like hell. What we do here in South africa is just spray them with Baygon or Doom. All you do is get your husband (although he might not like it) to spray the Doom or Baygon directly into the pole. If he sprays – he must RUN. So as he sprays and they start flying out, while he runs still spray towards them. Once the spray settles into the nest they dont come back. When you sure they left, just remove the nest and burn it.

    If you have anymore questions or not too sure what you encounter, let me know as we find something new and creapy everyday here in Sunny South Africa πŸ™‚

    My email is cbrits.sally@gmail.com

    Hope you get rid of the buggers.

    • Dear Carli –

      you see, this is why I love blogging! πŸ˜€ Someone reads something on the internet and goes “Ah HAH! I know what that is!” And then leaves a comment.

      So thank you very much for taking the time to comment – and for your helpful advice, and for pointing me towards the Darwin’s Bark Spider.

      I wonder whether ours is indeed one – because they sure are fascinating creatures! I was astounded to read that they can spin such a huge orb web! I must say I’m very relieved that our specimen is not quite as prolific or energetic, thank heavens! Fortunately, we found someone who was willing to ‘evict’ the wasps for us, though I see that we will have to keep a watchful eye on our roof and gutters all around the house, because there *still* seem to be clusters of wasps flying around our garden. Hmmm.

  9. Pleasure Reggie.

    See it almost took us a week to find out what sort of spider fell onto our vehicle. In SA you can only google so much… LOL it wasnt until a friend of ours said that it might be the Darwin and then ofcourse it was easier to google.

    So glad to hear about the wasps. They truly do hurt if the manage to catch you.

    Have a lovely day.


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