Doesn’t it just figure that when the weather begins to be pleasant enough to head outdoors again, the stinging – and I mean tear-inducing, cuss-inspiring, just-plain-MEAN stinging – insects decide to venture out and share our space?
If fire ants weren’t bad enough (well talk about them in a few weeks), yellow jackets are about to be as significant a force as Brian Bohannons quarterback swarm sporting their athletic jerseys each Saturday this fall at Bobby Dodd Stadium!
Seriously, outdoor events can take a painful turn if youre unaware of the habits of yellow jackets. With a few precautions, you can ensure that your tailgating, apple-picking, hiking, biking, yard-raking or socializing activities wont be interrupted by a collection of painful welts.
First, although they resemble bees in color, yellow jackets are actually part of the wasp family. (What a family reunion that would be, eh?). As luck would have it, these creatures grow their colonies in the springtime, when the weather is starting to warm. They feed mostly on protein when the colony is expanding.
During the fall, however, the colony is beginning to slow down its growth pattern and prepare for the coming cold weather. Most of the foraging workers which were present and visible throughout the warm weather will die back during the cold season. Their jobs in the fall consist of gathering sugars to maintain the queen and workers who will overwinter in the colony to prepare for the following year.
Because they are attracted to sugars, yellow jackets share our space in the fall, when we carelessly pick up sweet apples from the ground or low-hanging branches, lift an open soda can to our lips, or help ourselves to a hot pie at a festival. They are notorious for hanging around trash cans filled with discarded (and sugar-covered) food wrappers, drink bottles and leftovers.
The best way to avoid stings is to avoid sharing your food with the wasps. (There is a recurring theme here, over the last several blogs). Be careful to cover unattended drink bottles or cans, bowls or plates of food, check before grabbing a piece of fruit from the ground, and keep trash can lids tightly secured.
If you do find a colony that is sharing space too close to yours, and want to remove it safely, be sure to call the Pied Piper – The Legendary Leader in Pest Control, serving Cherokee, north Cobb, Bartow and Pickens counties and much of north Georgia.