No, you're not imagining it. The Pacific Northwest is having a terrible yellowjacket problem this summer -- and it's only going to get worse.
Two things contributed to the problem with yellowjackets that we're experiencing this year:
- The yellowjacket queens emerged from hibernation early. Usually they emerge in April, but this year, they woke up from their winter nap in February and proceeded to start their nests.
- The weather since the fourth of July has been HOT. During the summer, yellowjacket nests usually double in size in a month. When the temperatures are above 90 degrees, they can double in size in 14 days. When the temps are over 100 (as they have been in recent days), they can double in 10 days!
There's also this news to cause you nightmares: The yellowjacket species that is active right now is the Western Yellowjacket (Vespula pensylvanica). This species builds nests underground -- so they're difficult to locate. The nests grow large; some colonies can reach one-thousand or more workers at peak size. And the kicker: This species doesn't peak until mid-September.
It's only going to get worse, folks. Make sure you're using multiple traps around your property and emptying them when they get full. If the yellowjackets are still active inside the trap when you need to empty it, stick it in the freezer for about an hour to kill off the catch.
Keep trapping and stay safe!