Read those words and you can almost hear the makings of a hit song*...
"First I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live without them by my side
Oh if you don’t use your RESCUE! traps I know I’m still alive...
I will survive
I’ll hold my antennae way up high..."
With yellowjackets being so aggressive in many parts of the country this summer and fall, it’s a common question: What do these insects do during the winter? Will the cold temperatures wipe out the yellowjacket colony? Will any survive?
The good news is that most inhabitants of a yellowjacket nest die once the colder weather and frost hits. But they aren't the ones who really count.
The answer is, SHE will survive... the Queen.
More specifically, the surviving queens are the worker yellowjackets who become queens after they are newly fertilized by the males in the colony at the end of the season.
These newly fertilized queens survive the winter by finding a protected spot to hunker down. Typical locations are underground holes, brush piles, soil cavities, leaf debris, firewood piles, hollow logs or stumps.
For even more protection from the elements, the queen may also seek out an attic or crawl space indoors.
Once she finds a suitable spot, the queen yellowjacket settlesin for a long winter’s nap. The hibernation period, called diapause, lasts several months – usually November through April, depending on the temperatures.
Fast forward to the spring: During the first warm days where temperatures hit 70 degrees, the queen wakes up and starts looking for a nest site to start her colony.
And it’s new construction she’s after; yellowjackets do not use the same nest year after year.
There is an early-season solution, however: You can use RESCUE! traps to catch the queens.
So if you're afraid of an infestation next year, don't spend so many nights feeling sorry for yourself; just tell her she's not welcome anymore. If you knew for just one second the queen would be back to bother you, you’d make sure you use your Yellowjacket Trap to catch her!
(*With apologies to Gloria Gaynor.)