Thursday, May 4, 2017

It's Time to Arm Yourself Against Yellow Jackets by Joyce D'Agostino

Yellow Jacket in trap, photo by Joyce D'Agostino

Anyone who has tried to have a picnic, work in their yard or go camping has likely encountered the Yellow Jacket. Here in Colorado, we encounter the Western Yellow Jacket, Vespula pennsylvanica, most often. Because they are yellow and black in color, people often mistake them for honeybees, but the Yellow Jacket is much larger and from the wasp family, and can make multiple painful stings when they attack.

 Early to late spring is a good time of year to begin watching for these pests, however the time of year they appear can vary due to the weather. A good plan is as soon as you notice any Yellow Jackets around, it usually means that they are out looking for food and water and trying to establish a colony. Traps should be set out at that time. Keep water and food sources such as garbage cans covered while these insects are active.

 There are commercial traps that can be easily purchased at garden centers, major retailers and home improvement stores. They are designed to capture these pests using a chemical that attracts their species into the trap. Once inside, they cannot escape the trap and they die. When you purchase a trap, take time to read the information in order to know how long the bait scent will last and when to replace it. If you have a large yard or property, several of the traps may be necessary. Always put the traps in areas away from where you have your normal activities.

 Because the Yellow Jackets can also nest in the ground, wearing shoes in your yard and garden can help avoid being stung.  The majority of “bee stings” reported actually come from the Yellow Jacket. These insects are considered a nuisance and can be aggressive. Doing some early control is very helpful to eliminate as many of these insects as possible.

 For more information about: Yellow Jackets and other nuisance wasps; how to identify each species; and information on honeybees and bumblebees, check out these CSU bulletins:
Nuisance Wasps and Bees
European Paper Wasp