Largest yellowjacket nest ever?
This one was in Eatonville, Florida. The aerial nest wrapped around a palm tree was estimated to contain over 4,000 yellowjackets.
In Lee County, Georgia, this nest, found Tuesday in an abandoned house, was the largest one county code enforcement officers had ever seen.
Until this. On Wednesday, officers in nearby Sumter County, Georgia found a nest containing an estimated 100,000 yellowjackets in -- get this -- the cab of a truck!
Because of mild winters and no hard freeze to kill the colonies off, yellowjacket nests can grow exponentially like this in the South. Some will have multiple queens, which contributes to the exponential growth.
So can anyone top a nest with 100,000 yellowjackets? We're not very far into the summer, so there's plenty of time for the colonies to grow. I shudder to think of stumbling upon a nest like that.
Shine, lightning bug, shine
The confirmation that it's truly high summer comes with the first appearance of the lightning bugs. Like so many wild species, they seem a lot more scarce now than they were even a decade ago. I enjoyed a sparse but worthwhile evening light show earlier this week.
Sometimes lightning bugs seem to have been created specifically to amaze and delight us humans on those first glorious warm nights of summer. I'm no entomologist, so I have no idea what they do in their day jobs or what their real function in the ecosystem is. If they exist only so kids can collect them and keep them in glass jars for a while, that's fine with me, too. What a planet!
Wow, does that take me back. I was captivated by lightning bugs -- also known as fireflies -- when I was a child growing up in western Pennsylvania. (It's actually the state insect of PA.) Aside from ladybugs, they were just about the only insects that were "safe" and "cute" to this girly-girl. I used to run around and catch them in a jar, then keep them on my bedroom dresser overnight.
Another columnist from the Akron Beacon-Journal seems just as enchanted by these glowing creatures.
I haven't seen fireflies in years, and after reading these articles, I miss them. They are not really found in the western U.S. Some say their overall numbers are on the decline.
Eating bugs in Thailand
My friend Dan is on vacation in Thailand for six weeks. He has been raving about the food in e-mails. I don't know if he's in the northeastern part of the country, but according to this, you can't claim to have tried the local cuisine if you haven't tasted a bug of some sort. Perhaps he'll have occasion in his remaining time there to try some fried scorpions, grasshoppers or crickets.
Here's an account of one woman's dilemma concerning some active wasp nests in her garage. When it gets to that point, the only thing you can do is spray... and run.
A couple of summer pest recipes
Last summer I posted a recipe for Yellowjacket Apple Crisp. I just came across two more recipes involving some stinging insects.
Wasp's Nest Cake doesn't incorporate a wasp nest at all -- I guess it's just supposed to look like one. It actually sounds yummy, with vanilla pudding, yellow cake mix, milk, butterscotch chips and whipped cream as the ingredients.
On the other hand, you can try this recipe for Yellowjacket Soup at your own risk:
Gather ground-dwelling yellow jackets whole comb early in the morning. Place over heat right side up to loosen grubs. Remove grubs. Place comb over heat again until the cover parches. Remove and pick out the yellow jackets and brown in oven. Make soup by boiling in water and season with grease and salt.
Eight-year-old wasp killer
Jason Holmes is trying to raise money for a motorcycle, although he'll have to wait a while before he's old enough to ride it.
With his parents' input, he decided to fill a niche in the market as a wasp killer, and he's apparently getting plenty of calls from an ad he placed in the newspaper.
No pest news is good pest news
By this time last year, I had posted twice about my own pest horror stories involving bats... not in my belfry, but in the living space of my house -- which was much too close for comfort.
So far this year, I can knock on all the old wood I plan to refinish in my 1908 bungalow and say that I have not seen a single bat -- nor any evidence thereof.
As a matter of fact, in our neck of the woods it's been a slow year for pests. With a wet spring and cold June weather, the yellowjackets have not become established as they usually do when it's dry and warm. Usually in May I would find a few sleepy yellowjacket queens waking up in my house and looking for the nearest exit to get out and get busy on their nest-building. But all I've seen in my living room have been several fat, fuzzy bumblebees -- which were easily scooped up and set free outside.
The only other sighting has been a couple of slimy slugs in my basement. These are disgusting enough when you see them outside in your garden, but the ick factor of finding them inside is tenfold. I suppose the dampness attracted them. They're easily taken care of, however. Their slow movement makes it simple to go upstairs to the kitchen and return with the salt shaker.
Yellowjackets celebrate a birthday
The company that created a trap for yellowjackets has its 25th birthday right around the corner. Sterling International will celebrate its 25th year in business in 2007 -- April, to be exact. We are gearing up to promote this milestone in a number of ways, so stay tuned.