SCORES & OUTDOORS: Dealing with these pesky underground terrorists


A lot of people today confuse yellow jackets and hornets. Pictured at left is a yellow jacket, and a hornet on the suitable.

Roland D. Halleeby Roland D. Hallee

A handful of weeks back, I wrote about how strange this previous summer season has been (see The Town Line, August 15, 2019). My study also revealed that I wrote a comparable column back in 2015. Is there a pattern building?

Anyway, a single of the points I described was the lack of bees this previous summer season. Properly, I was raked more than the coals by fellow campers this previous weekend when we had been swarmed with yellow jackets. We could not appreciate the outdoors in the course of the day simply because these tiny monsters had been everywhere, attempting to come across something that contained liquid. Due to the current dry spell, they are seeking for something sweet with sugars.

Looking, we located 4 ground nests of yellow jackets. That is a excellent sign in itself. Far more on that later. Now, it was what to do about it.

That is a single of the points I am on the fence about. I do not want to destroy the hives, nor kill the bees, who are declining in numbers. On the other hand, they are annoying, and pose a danger to anybody who may well accidentally come upon the hive, in particular these allergic to a bee sting.

I have come to refer to these yellow jackets as underground terrorists.

More than the course of the final week, we have closed up the hives, hoping the bees will come across someplace else to go. Of course, there was some collateral harm.

With a single hive left, I sprayed it on Sunday evening, suitable about dusk, the time when all the bees are back in the hive for the evening, so there is no activity about the opening. I checked on it Monday morning, and saw exactly where there was nevertheless some activity. I didn’t spray on Monday evening simply because of the threat of rain.

Tuesday morning delivered the surprise. When I went to verify on the hive, it had been entirely dug up with the honeycomb exposed. Definitely the operate of a skunk.

Skunks will dig up in-ground hives for the honeycomb. Their thick, challenging skin tends to make them immune to bee stings.

Yellow jacket is the typical name in North America for predatory social wasps. Members of these genera are identified basically as “wasps” in other English-speaking nations. Most of these are black and yellow like the eastern yellow jacket and the aerial yellow jacket some are black and white like the bald-faced hornet. Other individuals may well have the abdomen background colour red as an alternative of black. They can be identified by their distinctive markings, their occurrence only in colonies, and a characteristic, fast, side-to-side flight pattern prior to landing. All females are capable of stinging.

Yellow jackets are significant predators of pest insects. Yellow jackets may well be confused with other wasps, such as hornets. A standard yellow jacket worker is about half an inch extended, with alternating bands on the abdomen the queen is bigger, about 3-quarters of an inch extended.

Yellow jackets are at times mistakenly named “bees, ”given that they are comparable in size and basic coloration to honey bees, but yellow jackets are basically wasps. In contrast to honey bees, yellow jackets have yellow or white markings, are not covered with tan-brown dense hair on their bodies, do not carry pollen, and do not have the flattened hairy hind legs utilized to carry it.

Yellow jackets have lance-like stingers with modest barbs, and usually sting repeatedly, even though sometimes a stinger becomes lodged and pulls cost-free of the wasp’s physique the venom, like most bee and wasp venoms, is mainly only unsafe to humans who are allergic or are stung lots of occasions.

Yellow jackets are social hunters living in colonies containing workers, queens, and males (drones). Colonies are annual with only inseminated queens overwintering. Fertilized queens are located in protected locations such as in hollow logs, in stumps, beneath bark, in leaf litter, in soil cavities, and in man-produced structures. Queens emerge in the course of the warm days of late spring or early summer season, pick a nest web site, and make a modest paper nest in which they lay eggs. Following the eggs hatch from the 30 to 50 brood cells, the queen feeds the young larvae for about 18 to 20 days. Larvae pupate, then emerge later as modest, infertile females named workers. Workers in the colony take more than caring for the larvae, feeding them with chewed up meat or fruit. By midsummer, the very first adult workers emerge and assume the tasks of nest expansion, foraging for meals, care of the queen and larvae, and colony defense.

From this time till her death in the autumn, the queen remains inside the nest, laying eggs. The colony then expands swiftly, reaching a maximum size of four,000 to five,000 workers and a nest of 10,000 to 15,000 cells in late summer season.

The diet plan of the adult yellow jacket consists mainly of products wealthy in sugars and carbohydrates, such as fruits, flower nectar, and tree sap. Larvae feed on proteins derived from insects, meats, and fish, which are collected by the adults, which chew and situation them ahead of feeding them to the larvae. A lot of of the insects collected by the adults are regarded pest species, producing the yellow jacket effective to agriculture. Larvae, in return, secrete a sugar material to be eaten by the adults. In late summer season, foraging workers pursue other meals sources from meats to ripe fruits, or scavenge human garbage, sodas, picnics, and so on., as extra sugar is required to foster the subsequent generation’s queens.

As described earlier, obtaining various ground nests is a excellent sign, according to old farmers’ folklore. Locating nests in the ground is an indicator of low snowfall for the upcoming winter. We’ll wait to see if that is the case.

Roland’s trivia query of the week:

Which two Boston Red Sox players every had more than 30 homers and 50 doubles this season. The very first time that has occurred in Red Sox franchise history.

Answer can be located right here.


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