Yellow Jackets


Are Yellow Jackets Ruining Your Party?

It is a perfect day. In just a few minutes some of your special friends will arriving to celebrate a perfect meal out on the patio. The Chardonnay is chilling the coals of the barbecue are glowing with a graying edge; the tri tip has been marinating in an herbed-onion marinade; the chicken is coated with soy-ginger, and the salmon is fresh and pink. The table is set on the verandah; the day’s heat has ripened into a twilight of pinks, oranges, and reds sparkling on billowing pillowy clouds. And then the doorbell. “Come in, so good to see you, you look great. Beer, wine or something in a daiquiri?” “What smells so good? The wine is delicious. Where did you find it?” The sizzle of the barbecue harmonizes with cheery conversation. Wineglasses clink, laughter wafts and circles the party as children run on the freshly cut lawn. And then THEY show up. Aggressive, pushy, no sense of humor and dangerous. It’s the yellow jackets swarming on freshly served, flawlessly cooked meat.

“I thought you put out the traps, Darling.”

“I did, Petal.”

“Well, they are not working Hambone. Do something!”

“What would you suggest, Heavenly Breath?”

“Oh, no, Miss Fiditch just got stung on the lip as she sipped her wine, and she is very allergic.”

“We can’t stay out here. Those bees are everywhere. Let’s all go into the house.”

Sound familiar? Yellow jackets are notorious party crashers. The day before the party is not the time to prepare the traps for these unwanted guests. You are about one year too late. Let’s talk bugs!

Yellow jackets are social wasps living in colonies containing workers, queens and males. These colonies are annual with only inseminated queens over-wintering. This is an important point so I will repeat it. These colonies are annual only with only inseminated queens over-wintering. The population of workers decreases dramatically in the cooler months. As the summer populations of these colonies grow, virgin queens emerge and mate with male drones.

As we all know, mating and searching for a new home requires considerable energy. The queens become voracious feeders on sweets to get that kind of energy. So fall is the best time to set your yellow jacket traps. Every queen trapped in the fall means a 1000-5000 fewer wasps during the next season.

Remember, no  matter how successful we may be in trapping yellow jackets, we cannot eliminate them all. We can, however, bring their numbers down to tolerable levels.