Conditions ripe for wasps and yellow jackets [UPDATED]Published 10:59am Monday, September 10, 2012 Updated 10:59am Monday, September 10, 2012
If you have noticed more wasps and yellow jackets buzzing about this season than usual, you aren’t the only one.
“The mild winter and the warm dry summer has caused there to be more wasps than usual,” said Don Schultz, area wildlife supervisor with the DNR.
This time of year the wasps set out to find new locations to build colonies after spending all summer multiplying. Each colony can contain 1,000 of these stinging creatures. “We have had many calls about people finding hives near their docks by the water, under decks or under stairs,” he said.
Their are numerous things you can do to avoid being stung or ways to get rid of the hive. Wasps and yellow jackets are attracted to sweet smelling things.
“Hair products, makeup and perfume can attract the wasps,” said Teresa Jaskiewicz, Environmental Education Specialist at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center (PWLC). “The biggest thing we teach are kids here at the PWLC is not to swat or try to hit them.”
Doing so, she said, aggravates them and will cause them to become defensive and sting. Unlike the non-native honey bee, which can only sting you once, the wasp and yellow jackets can sting multiple times.
For picnics, Jaskiewicz suggests making a sacrificial plate of food containing fruits and soda away from your eating area.
“I personally like using Welch’s grape jelly jar,” Jaskiewicz said. “Smearing some jelly on the outside edge, while having the inside empty and adding only a little water on the bottom, makes the wasps think there is more in the bottom of the jar and the fly down and drown in the water.
Taking care of the hive itself can be a whole other task in itself.
“When encountering a hive the best thing to do is use products specifically made to kill wasps and spray at dark when all the wasps are inside,” said Schultz. “You don’t ever want to spray a hive with water or pour water down a burrow.”