Auburn University researcher and entomologist, Dr. Charles Ray says this year we could see huge yellowjacket nets and some could be as big as a Volkswagen Beetle. It's called a perennial yellowjacket nest.
Entomologists believe that milder winters combined with an abundant food supply allow some colonies to survive and enter spring with much 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 yellowjacket nest is usually located 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.
The perennial yellowjacket nests that concern Ray bear little resemblance to normal colonies.
“These perennial nests may be several feet wide and have many thousands of workers, far more than an average nest,” said Ray. “We have found them attached to home exteriors and other places you might not expect to find yellowjackets.”
Researchers with the Extension and Auburn University have already confirmed two such nests in Alabama this year, and issued a news release warning that there are likely others out there.
“The most workers I have counted in a perennial nest is about 15,000 or about 3 to 4 times more than a normal nest,” said Ray, “However, one nest in South Carolina was documented with more 250,000 workers.”
Ray believes that Alabama may see large numbers of perennial nests this year. Will we see them in Georgia? "You've had them in Georgia before and you will have them again," says Ray.
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