Sand wasps at McCormick Park Playground can’t be chemically treated

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The entrance to McCormick Park Playground in the city of Williamston. Photo by Honda Carter

The weather outside has been quite a delight for Michiganders for the beginning of fall this year with slightly warmer than average temperatures according to The Weather Channel, but with great weather brings insects.

The stinging kind.

According to the city of Williamston’s website sand wasps at McCormick Park playground have been spotted and the area has been treated with non toxic, natural repellent, but this is nothing new for the city.

Director of Public Works Scott Devries said the wasps are near the playground every year but this time it seems like more of a problem.

“They’re a species of wasps that do not make a nest that have lots of wasps in them, it’s a single solitary little tunnel they make,” Devries said.

“There’s not a way to spray and kill off like a whole nest.”

The insects have not been identified specifically by type, but they are primarily found around the sandbox area at the McCormick Park playground where they burrow into the sand.

MSU professor and Director of Entomology Graduate Program Anthony Cognato said a homeowner could just promote growing a really thick grass to keep wasps away but in this case that’s not possible for the playground.

According to the website they have checked with pest control companies, as well as experts from Michigan State University Entomology and both have stated that due to the solitary nesting nature of the insects there is not a central hive that can be treated.

The city was advised that chemical treatment of the sandbox area would pose a greater risk for the health of children.

Cognato said sand wasps aren’t very dangerous to humans and as long as you leave them alone, they will do the same.

The sandbox at McCormick Park Playground where the sand wasps are supposed to be located. Photo by Honda Carter

“You really just have to grab them with your hands or mistakenly step on them, then that’s when they may sting you,” Cognato said.

Cognato said it is generally not a concern but if a child happened to be digging in a sand box where a wasp created its tunnel, they could be stung.

Devries said the wasps are in a lot of places and they’ve been found at a park in Mason this year as well.

According to Cognato they are generally attracted to sandy soil and they like bare grounds with a little grass or vegetation.

“As long as the soil is loose enough and they can dig down,” he said.

Cognato said the adult wasps are active during the summer and early fall because they are mating, building nests and most importantly collecting food for their young which they bury underground.

“They’re basically harmless, if you respect them they’ll respect you,” he said.


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