Why are yellow jackets so aggressive in Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia?

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Why are yellow jackets so aggressive in Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia?
A young Paper Wasp Queen builds a nest to start a new colony. (Courtesy photo)
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This post is sponsored by Planet Friendly Pest Control.

Both Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia are home to the Eastern yellow jacket, one of the most aggressive stinging insects to be found in the mid-Atlantic.

In the late summer and early fall, yellow jackets are at their most temperamental in our humid climate. In fact, until the first frost hits in October, you will still find these dangerous pests buzzing around and looking for trouble.

What, exactly, is their problem? Why are yellow jackets so aggressive in Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia?

Read on to find out more and do not try to tackle a yellow jacket nest on your own. These pests require professional removal.

Yellow jackets are community-oriented

Yellow jackets are considered social insects, which means that they work together towards a common goal. The colony starts with a single queen, who begins the work of laying eggs and building a small nest. Throughout the spring and summer, more eggs are laid by the queen while her sterile female offspring continue to build and protect the nest.

Few things matter more to a worker yellow jacket than protecting the queen and her young, and it does not take much to make a yellow jacket colony feel threatened.

In fact, yellow jackets can emit an emergency pheromone that alerts the others in the nest to come out and join in the attack. That is why so many people in the mid-Atlantic region find themselves swarmed by yellow jackets, rather than swatting away one or two.

Yellow jackets can sting – and bite – again and again

Your typical honeybee can only sting once, as this removes their stinger from their body and kills them. That is why honeybees are not too aggressive and have to be seriously provoked to sting.

Yellow jackets, on the other hand, do not have this handicap. They can sting as many times as they want, and it will not cause them any harm. Plus, they can also bite, which is not as harmful or dangerous, even to those with allergies, but it certainly is not pleasant.

A yellow jacket nest is biggest in late summer and early fall

As mentioned earlier, the mating process begins in the spring and continues throughout the summer. In the early phases, a yellow jacket queen is focused on producing her sterile female workers. However, things start to change as the nest grows.

Around the halfway mark of summer, the queen will begin to lay the fertile females that will serve as queens of their own colonies in the future. At this point, the nest is going to be quite large–and well monitored.  In a “good” season, a single colony can host up to 5,000 active yellow jackets.

What to do about yellow jackets in Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia

Have you discovered a nest of yellow jackets in your yard or home in Southern Maryland or Northern Virginia? Take great care not to disturb it before it can be removed.

At Planet Friendly Pest Control, we tackle two concerns that matter to most homeowners: keeping pests away from the home while reducing harm to the natural ecosystem. Contact us to get rid of your pests with eco-friendly solutions.

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