A bad season for yellow jackets

Staff Writer

In 40 or so years of collecting the nests of yellow jackets, entomologist Russell Lamp, of Oregon, says he’s never seen their populations as low as they are this summer.
“The reproductive queens did not get out in significant numbers last year. The queens will start the nests by themselves in the spring,” Lamp said, adding the wet spring this year also hampered their ability to nest in ground.
In the waning days of summer, he’s collecting hornets and yellow jackets for their venom, which he provides to pharmaceutical companies that manufacture medical vaccines.
If the nests haven’t been sprayed he will remove them at no charge.
Hornet nests are typically found in trees or on buildings and made with a paper-like substance. If they are close to the size of a basketball and easily accessible, Lamp would be interested in removing them.
Yellow jackets nest on buildings and in the ground. If an in-ground colony is active, about 100 will be entering or leaving it in a minute. Some of the largest nests Lamp has encountered were in mulch or compost piles and raised gardens.
“Areas where there is sandy soil are the best,” he said.
He anticipates collecting the nests of yellow jackets into October, depending on the species, and collecting hornet nests until mid-September before they start dying out.
“Hornet nests this year are a little below average but they’re holding up OK,” Lamp said.
To contact Lamp call 419-836-3710.


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