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IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY TO CONTROL YELLOWJACKETS

By Chris Williams on June 11, 2018.

I think I just saw some yellowjackets going into a hole in the ground. Isn’t it too early for yellowjackets to be out and about?

Y. L. Dracut, MA

Not too early. A yellowjacket queen starts her nest in early spring and it grows in size and number of individuals throughout the summer. As the queen lays eggs, more workers are produced to search out insects and feed developing larvae. A successful late season yellowjacket nest can have up to 4,000 wasps. See How Do Yellowjackets Reproduce?

Normally though we don’t really notice yellowjackets until late summer when the nests have so many individuals coming and going that they’re hard to ignore, especially if they are in a yard or public area. Also in late summer, yellowjackets change their habits, become more aggressive, forage more for people food, and invade hummingbird feeders. Yellowjackets are much more “in-your-face” come mid-summer into fall.

YELLOWJACKET PROBLEMS GROW AS NESTS GROW

Yellowjackets become a problem when their nest is in an area where people may walk through it or otherwise disturb it – such as next to a porch, near a playground, or in gardens, or in yard areas that are mowed. Yellowjackets really, really don’t like it if they think their nest is being threatened! Since they are social wasps that work together, you are apt to get stung multiple times if you’re too close to the opening.

Yellow Jacket nest by July 23 under a deck. Z. Ciras.

This is why we encourage destruction of problem yellowjacket nests early in the season, before they can grow to large sizes. If the nest is anywhere that people or pets can come in contact with it, or especially if anyone has a sensitivity to stings, call Colonial Pest to have the nest treated.

TREAT NESTS THIS YEAR TO ELIMINATE NESTS NEXT YEAR

There’s another advantage to treating yellowjacket nests early. Yellowjacket nests that make it through the summer produce future queens. While the worker wasps die off in fall, each nest contributes queens that will survive the winter to start new nests the following spring. And queens don’t travel far to set up housekeeping (see Get Rid of Yellowjackets Now to Prevent Next Year’s Nests).

Most yellowjackets nest in the ground but some nest in trees or shrubs and some in building voids. The fact that you know where this ground nest is located is an advantage because finding the nest itself early in the season can be difficult. Controlling yellowjackets ASAP will make your summer much more pleasant and could mean fewer yellowjackets in your yard next year.

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