Along with summer come days spent working outside, lounging by the pool, and enjoying picnics and barbeques. It also begins an ancient battle between human and yellow jacket. We know these brightly colored warriors by sight but what do we really know about them? Let us find out, because they say that knowing is half the battle.
Yellow jackets are actually from the same family as wasps and hornets. They live in nests that are made from wood fiber, usually in hollow trees or under roof eaves, and can house thousands of yellow jackets. The yellow jackets does not have the ability to carry pollen, like its distant relatives the honeybee, so it cannot make honey. These insects survive primarily on fruit and plant nectar and insects. Yellow jackets are extremely beneficial to farmers and gardeners because they eat crop-damaging pests like flies and caterpillars. But as the sweet summer fruit begins to disappear, the yellow jackets turn to humans for replacements. They have a sweet tooth so they are attracted to sodas, sweets, and certain kinds of meats.
Each spring, the surviving queen begins to create that yearâ€™s nest and lays the eggs of the future workers. These are very social insects and every action and thought is for and about the survival of the colony. The yellow jacket nest population will be at its highest during the summer and will begin to decrease at the beginning of the fall, as all of the workers die off.
These yellow jackets are quite interesting in their design because here we meet another member of the insect world that believes in â€œgirl powerâ€. Only the female yellow jacket can sting. The male has no stinger. Females are equipped with a spear-like stinger that is covered in small barbs. She can sting her prey repeatedly until the stinger gets stuck. If you have ever been stung by one of these, you know they are lightning fast. Every time her stinger penetrates, it releases venom containing over 30 individual components. This venom is not harmful, unless you are allergic, and can cause pain and swelling at the area stung.
Some simple tips and things to remember when you are enjoying time outside or getting some of that yard work done are:
â€¢ When having food outdoors, keep all dishes covered and check drinks before drinking.
â€¢ Keep all trash cans tightly sealed.
â€¢ Keep an eye out for nests when mowing for nests in the ground.Y ellow jackets are extremely defensive of their home.
â€¢ Do not swat at them. Stand very still until the yellow jacket leaves. They will sting when aggravated and may call friends.
Although yellow jackets can seem like a nuisance or a threat to your outdoor fun, they are really not different from us. They are just trying to survive in this world by gathering food and defending themselves and their colony. They are not going to change so it is up to us to figure out how to live in harmony.