I'm realistic, not cruel

I am responding to R. S. Faris' letter about my suggestion that one use a bowl instead of pesticides to eradicate yellow jacket nests [September 22: "Condon was cruel"].

I am pleased that this letter writer understands that all life forms should be recognized as vital to the proper functioning of our planet. Indeed, that is the subject of my talks this season in Shenandoah National Park and of my soon-to-be-released book, The Nature-friendly Garden.

However, there really are times when one has no choice but to kill other organisms. In the case of wasps, there are many people who, because of an allergic response, simply cannot tolerate stings. Such a person could be killed by an attacking army of yellow jackets if he inadvertently stepped onto a nest hole or ran a lawnmower over it.

I never advise people to kill yellow jackets if their nest is in an out-of-the-way location, but it would be irresponsible to insist that a nest close to an area of frequent human activity be left alone.

If a nest must be destroyed, I consider the bowl a more desirable alternative than the use of pesticides that will undoubtedly affect other species as well. Unfortunately, yellow jackets are very difficult to deal with because of their superior nest-protection defense.

If the letter writer (or anyone else) has a better alternative to the bowl method or pesticides, I would appreciate hearing it, as better ways of dealing with wildlife difficulties may well be the subject of my next book. I can be reached via email.

Marlene A. Condon