Eliminating the Splash Pad Sting

Complaints about bees and other stinging insects at pools and splash pads are a sure sign of summer—I guess our winged friends need their recreation too.

If only the bees at your splash pad were this cute and fuzzy.

Just kidding. The reality is, those pesky bees, wasps, hornets and other stinging insects need water to fan their hives and keep them cool; and when we’re providing so much of it—they just can’t stay away.

So, what’s a park and rec pro to do?

The first step is always finding and eradicating their nests. There are a number of ecologically safe products on the market to help you here. Be sure you know what you’re doing with these products and follow all directions. Or, of course, you could hire a pro to do it for you; if you hire them early enough they can pre-treat the area to keep these undesirables from setting up shop to begin with.

But, if you want to go “au natural” or try what we can safely call an “alternative method,” here are a few inventive strategies I’ve stumbled upon during my years in the trenches.

Native American Method

Hang a steak from a tree branch downwind of a nest and place a bucket of soapy water under it. Theoretically, wasps gorge themselves on meat until they can’t fly and fall in the bucket. The soap washes away their waxy coat and they drown. A bit draconian perhaps, but desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures—and if it fails you can always grill the steak for supper.

The Garlic Method

Another less-invasive method I’ve heard about is to stick about 10 cloves of garlic into half of a lemon and place several of these in the area; apparently they don’t like the scent and it keeps them away; hey, it’s worth a try, right?

Honey Water Method

Here’s an interesting method: mix some honey into a bucket of water and set it near the splash pad. The insects will like the sweet water better than what’s coming out of the ground and will go to it. Once the bees find it, keep moving the bucket further and further from the splash pad until you move them right into the street.

Cucumber Method – For Wasps

If wasps are your problem, one home remedy is to cut up cucumbers and leave them around the area. Apparently they have an acidy property that wasps do not like…and you can always have a salad at the end of the day so the slices won’t go to waste.

Fake Wasp Nest Method

Or, also for wasps, hang crumpled-up paper grocery-type bags by strings around the vicinity of the splash pad. Wasps are territorial and tend to avoid areas where other wasps have hives and the bags are good enough to fool some of the wasps some of the time; I think this one works especially well with visually-challenged wasps.

Got a better suggestion—or a wackier one?  If so, now is the time to share.  Add a comment to this blog and share your knowledge. Keep in mind, there are no guarantees against bees and you may never find a 100-percent cure, but with a little help from our Week-Ender friends, maybe we can avoid some nasty summer stings.

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Beaufort, S.C.; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email cwo4usmc@comcast.net.