Beeware: Hornets and Yellow Jackets May Be Where You Least Expect Them

August and September – that transition between summer and autumn – means getting the most out of the remaining warm weather. Vacation days get used up like charcoal at a Labor Day Weekend barbeque, and although the lawn has needed care all spring and summer, this is the time to get the yard in order before the leaves fall. Through June and July, bug spray shielded you from mosquitoes and biting flies, but the next time you light the grill or start the mower, be aware that you could accidentally aggravate a beehive. Hornets and yellow jackets are more aggressive than usual this time of year, and repellent won’t protect you.

When most people think of a beehive, they picture a papery comb suspended from a tree or building. Bald-faced hornets build these hives. Common sense says not to bother a hive, but hornets post guards at the entrances, and any nearby rapid movement or vibrations can cause those guards to sound the alarm. Much like an aircraft carrier scrambling its F-18 Hornets, their namesake insects will take to the air and go on the offensive. Outdoor parties, children playing, the rumbling of a lawn mower, or the incessant buzzing of a weed whacker can all trigger such an airstrike, and a mature colony can hold up to 700 adult hornets.

It’s wise to survey your property before any get-togethers or yard work this time of year, but not all hives are as obvious as those built by hornets. Yellow jackets build their hives underground and within walls. Like hornets, they guard the entrances to these structures and are put on high alert by the same stimuli. Their colonies can be much larger than those of hornets, however, holding up to 4,000 workers at peak. That number becomes even more alarming when one considers that, unlike other species of bees, yellow jackets do not lose their stingers after using them, meaning each bee can sting multiple times. What’s worse is that the initial sting from a yellow jacket guard releases a chemical that signals the rest of the hive to swarm. Yellow jackets also scavenge for sugary food like fruit and are attracted to garbage cans and outdoor activities like picnics and cookouts.

Yellow jackets pose an indoor threat, as well. A buzzing sound coming from walls could indicate the presence of a hive. Imperfections in the wall near the source of the buzzing are another sign of yellow jackets. Do not poke or prod these parts of the wall as a thin layer of paint may be the only thing between you and thousands of bees.

Because of their aggressive nature, both hornets and yellow jackets should be dealt with by trained professionals. As with all things pest related, it’s best to leave it to the Masters. Give us a call so you can be worry free and enjoy the rest of the summer. 877-546-9575