Have you noticed more frequent encounters with yellow jackets recently? Yellow jackets are a type of paper wasp found across the country. Depending on the species, they either nest above or below ground in colonies with workers and one queen that lays eggs. During the spring and early summer, workers build-up the colony chambers for eggs and a protective, outer shell. When the colony reaches full size, the queen lays eggs that will develop into male and female yellow jackets that leave the nest to start new colonies the following year. Workers become more aggressive at this time, typically mid- to late-summer, to protect new larvae as they grow.
Viewer Tip: Encounters with yellow jackets tend to increase at this time of year because they are foraging for food outside the colony to feed new larvae. Yellow jackets typically reserve aggression for protecting the colony, so passing by or walking over a colony could result in an attack. If you have yellow jackets on your property, it's best to avoid the area where the colony is located. If the colony can't be avoided, you may need to remove or destroy it. Seek help from a professional who is experienced in pest removal - spraying water, burying or otherwise bothering a colony is likely to result in many stings.
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(Sources: eNature. “Nature Watch: Summer Stingers.” Available from www.enature.com/articles/detail.asp?storyID=324)