Massive Yellow Jacket nests appearing again in Alabama

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. (ACES) – Imagine a colony of yellow jackets the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Now, imagine more than 90 of these super nests in Alabama. It happened in 2006, and Charles Ray, an entomologist working with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said that 2019 might mirror that year.

What is a Perennial Yellow Jacket Nest?

Entomologists believe that milder winters combined with an abundant food supply allow some colonies to survive and enter spring with larger numbers. Additionally, the normal cues that would cause queens to disperse may not happen. Researchers have documented that these massive colonies often have multiple queens.

A normal yellow jacket nest is usually in the ground or a cavity. It may peak at 4,000 to 5,000 workers that do not survive cold weather, leaving queens to disperse and form new colonies in the spring.

Large Numbers of Nests…

Ray believes that the state may see large numbers of perennial nests this year.

“We confirmed two nests in May and have indications of a third,” he said. “This puts us several weeks earlier than in 2006, when we identified the first giant nest on June 13.

“If we are seeing them a month sooner than we did in 2006, I am very concerned that there will be a large number of them in the state. The nests I have seen this year already have more than 10,000 workers and are expanding rapidly.”

How to Remove a Nest…

If you want these nests removed, Ray says it is a task only for licensed commercial pest control operators. He warns that even some commercial operators will not tackle these giant perennial yellow jacket nests.

Information via Alabama Cooperative Extension System

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