Friday, July 24, 2015

Drought May Cause Plague of Yellow-Jacket Wasps This Year

The late Dr. Akre of WSU, a leading expert on yellow jackets predicted huge population explosions on years with dry, warm springs and early summers, says Kurt Treftz of Cascade Pest Control. "If Dr. Akre is correct we may see yellow jackets all over our outdoor eating and other activities. And we may find a record number of yellow jacket nests on and around our homes and other locations." 

Yellow jackets are a wasp that builds paper 'enveloped' nests. The populations can reach into the thousands. While some nests may be situated such that they hang under eaves of homes, other yellow-jacket nests may locate underground, actually excavating soil. These ground nests can be agitated when walking or lawn-mowing over them.  

Worse yet is when yellow-jackets locate their nest in a wall void or attic of a home. In such cases their nests of perhaps 4,000 wasps is only kept out of our living spaces by a half-inch 1/2 inch of sheetrock and some paint. The trouble is that they will slowly scratch through the sheetrock and enter the home. "We get calls every year by folks who have to leave their home, driven out by hundreds of wasps. Or, if they're lucky, some people call us while they still hear the scratching sounds well before they've burst into the home."

Some other species nest in bushes and trees, including the nick-named "bald-faced hornet." "Sadly, I rode my tricycle into a bush with such a nest as a kid," says Treftz. "I was covered with stings and traumatized."

Treftz holding Dr. Akre’s book,
“Yellow Jackets of North America”
Dr. Akre had predicted the surge in paper wasp populations in the greater Seattle area in 1979 and other years since. He was the leading authority, having written 'Yellow Jackets of North America  (north of Mexico).' 

"His predictions have proven correct a number of years, including 2003. What remains uncertain is whether a year this dry would actually impede them," says Treftz. "We have to wait until late July and into August to know the full impact. But we at Cascade Pest Control have already had to respond to a number of calls, including a yellow-jacket nest hanging from wires over an intersection. Traffic had to be halted during the process."

For more information about yellow jackets or other pests call Cascade Pest at 1-888-989-8979.