This is a post you should not read if you are squeamish, because it is not a pretty garden post and actually has some pictures of scat in it. You've been warned!
As I've always done on this blog I write about experiences in our garden and how we live and learn. Recently we had an experience with a ground nesting wasp nest. I have no idea what kind of wasps made this nest so I will not specify the type of wasp, but I suspect is was some kind of yellow jacket, perhaps a southern yellow jacket. I will tell you that generally yellow jackets are the type of wasps that nest subterranean (underground). This was indeed a subterranean nest. The above picture shows the location of the nest.
Of course the entrance to the nest was not a ripped out hole in the ground with a bunch of comb scattered about. No, if it was then Farmer Fix-it may have spotted the wasps prior to being stung several times by the residents of this nest. There is a tree near this wasp nest and unfortunately for Farmer Fix-it and our little dog Buttercup, the tree had to come down. Cranking up the chainsaw near the nest precipitated a series of events that spelled doom for the wasps. And the danger was not so much from Farmer Fix-it or the dog, but from some other varmint in the locality-a nocturnal varmint.
The pictures you are looking at are the remnants of a large ground dwelling wasp nest that was literally ripped apart recently. Of course Farmer Fix-it is saying yeah! He was not so happy about having some stings on his head. It is perhaps due to the tree having to come down and the wasps being disturbed that brought the location of the wasp nest to a local resident because the day after being stung by these wasps Farmer Fix-it discovered the remnants of the nest all over the ground. He and I were both scratching our heads and wondering what the heck could have happened to the nest?
A clue was found right next the remnants of the nest in the form an an animal's scat. Now I can tell you right now Farmer Fix-it and I are not experts in identifying scat. We try by Googling images of scat, but it is still a hit or miss process because a lot of animals have scat that look exactly the same. The animals who have scat like we found could be: skunks, raccoons, armadillos (yes they are in Tennessee), and possums. We simply can't pick one of them out as the perpetrator because we think perhaps all of these animals are on the land and all of them may eat wasps. We are leaning toward a raccoon simply because we have seen a raccoon or two on the land-big ones too.
Regardless of the type of animal this scat belongs to can you imagine eating wasps??? I can understand wanting to eat the larva of the wasps but the wasps themselves?? If you look closely at the above picture you can see the wasps are pretty much whole and intact in this scat. Don't you think they stung as they were being gobbled up? Having been stung by wasps several times I can tell you I cringe at the very thought of accidentally, let alone on purpose, getting a wasp in my mouth. OUCH!
Despite the decimation to the nest the wasps were back the same day trying to repair their nest. Apparently the unknown varmint did not eat all of the wasps. I suspect it may come back after its mouth heals....
in the garden....