There’s a popular saying that goes, “Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” Fair enough. But must it also mean more yellowjackets?
So far this year, the number of requests we’ve received each month for ground-nesting yellowjacket service has easily surpassed every month of 2015, as well as the last four months of the 22-year average for service requests.
The cities in Contra Costa County with the largest increase in requests for our service of a yelllowjacket nest is Orinda which is up 162%, Martinez is up 169%, Walnut Creek is up 215%, and Lafayette has 224% more requests for service this year than the same time period last year.
Why are there so many more yellowjackets this year than last? Yellowjacket Program Supervisor Sheila Currier says ample rain during the springtime after years of severe drought most likely increased vegetation and in turn, the population of insects that thrive in and on that vegetation.
“During the worst of the drought, when vegetation died, so did the smaller pest insects that live and feed on the vegetation. Yellowjackets eat small pest insects as well as flower nectar and whatever they can sneak from backyard barbeques,” said Currier. “This year, we experienced a more typical rainy season and we had a milder winter as well. The vegetation rebounded and more yellowjackets probably survived because of the increase in their food supply.”
And right now, Currier adds, is the time of the year when the yellowjacket queens are preparing to hibernate for winter and the hives are naturally dying out. As the queens stop producing yellowjackets and the whole hive’s ecosystem comes to a halt, the worker yellowjackets are forced to to seek proteins and sugars elsewhere. In other words, they are desperate to dine out on your steak and soda.
Got a yellowjacket nest on your property? We provide ground-nesting yellowjacket control, a free service paid for through your tax dollars. While yellowjackets are not known to transmit disease, yellowjackets can be dangerous to people who are allergic to their venom so they are considered a vector.