Removing wasp nests for a living comes with some challenges.
But for longtime Corvallis resident Dan Scollard, possibly the biggest challenge is removing wasp nests high off the ground, such as on high tension power lines. In those situations, he said, power companies will bring in cranes to lift him up to the nests.
“Getting stung on the ground is fine, but when you are 60 feet in the air and getting stung you have to keep your wits about you,” he said.
Scollard said challenges like these are part of what makes the job fun.
But Scollard, who removes nests for free, said the job also has other rewards: he knows he’s doing a lot of good. He’s not only helping people deal with the trouble of a wasp nest, he’s also helping people with sting allergies.
Scollard is able to do wasp nest removals for free because he sells the wasps he extracts to a lab that makes immunotherapy treatments for people with severe sting allergies.
Scollard said the small percentage of people who are very allergic to stings from wasps and bees have life-threatening symptoms when they get stung. Although they can carry EpiPens, he said those are expensive, expire over time and are not always effective. Scollard sells wasps to a lab that extracts their venom and uses it to develop a series of shots that over time can reduce a person’s reaction to venom to the same level of a person who is not allergic.
Scollard, who worked as a touring bassist for three decades and also has a biology degree from Oregon State University, said he got into wasp removal after working at Aquatic Biology Associates, where he met Jim DiGiulio, who started doing wasp removal for venom extraction in Corvallis in the mid-1980s. Scollard said he apprenticed under DiGiulio in 2011 and took over the business in 2012.
Scollard said the lab to which he sells wasps has given him a territory of 100 miles around Corvallis and he now employs two other people to do collections in the Salem and Eugene areas.
“It’s a very odd job but to the right guy it’s exciting,” he said.
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His customers include homeowners, parks departments, schools and businesses. He said as long as the nest hasn’t been interfered with — such as spraying it with poison — he can collect the wasps and remove the nest. He said he also keeps bees and is friends with beekeepers so he can usually arrange for bee nests to be removed for free too.
Scollard said the most common species he encounters are yellow hornets, bald-faced hornets, western yellow jackets and common yellow jackets. He said each species has unique personalities and he’s encountered them building nests in a variety of places, including boots, sculptures, cars and mailboxes.
“They build anywhere, everywhere.”
Scollard said he removed more than 630 nests last year and the job can be demanding. He works 14-hour days seven days a week during the summer, when wasps are active.
Scollard said he likes doing wasp removals because the busy season is in the summer so it gives him time to focus on other pursuits in other seasons. He also hunts, teaches music lessons, breeds hunting Labradors and makes wine.
“I’m a generalist. I like to do a lot of different things,” he said.
Scollard said he gets stung around 40 to 60 times a summer. He said despite the stings, he sticks with the business because he likes helping people. And, as his own boss, he can prioritize helping people in greater need: like places kids frequent, people who have mobility limitations that mean they can’t get away from swarms quickly or people with allergies to venom.
“Folks in town are, by and large, very appreciative of this.”
People with wasp nests they need removed can contact Scollard at 541-753-6861 or visit oregonwasp.com.