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Queen Watch

Here in the Northwest, we've been enjoying a winter of very light precipitation and unusually warm February and March weather. That has lots of people talking about bugs, like in this AP story. It also has us worried about a drought. Having been in the bug business for over 22 years, we know that a warm spring and dry conditions can mean yellowjackets will get an early start.

Yellowjacket_1 The Northwest had an abundance of yellowjackets last summer, which means that a large number of yellowjacket queens have been hibernating over the winter. During the first warm days of spring, when daytime temps consistently reach the high 60s/low 70s, the queen emerges and starts looking for a new site for her nest. The most frequent nest site is underground, but some yellowjackets have been known to nest in an attic or the wall void of a house. (Personal note: I know this from first-hand experience... I had a yellowjacket nest in a wall void above the back door of my house a number of years ago. I was going in and out of that door for days before realizing it. I wondered why bugs were buzzing around my head every time I passed through, then finally looked up and saw the tiny opening with the heavy yellowjacket traffic going in and out. Scary!)

Yjtr_against_blue Anyway, the record high March temperatures have us here at Sterling on a 'queen watch.' We all have our RESCUE! yellowjacket traps out to see who can capture the first sign of what could potentially be an infestation this spring and summer. Any yellowjacket queen caught in the next few weeks could easily qualify as a record for the earliest sighting.

I'm convinced yellowjacket queens take refuge somewhere in my attic every year, so I may find the first queen in my house. Every spring, my cat Cosette will paw at a few yellowjackets crawling sleepily across the floor -- probably having just woken up from that long slumber and searching for the nearest exit. So Cosette will be part of 'queen watch' as well.

Lower temps and possible rain next week will probably put things on hold, but all signs point to the queens awakening soon.

March 10, 2005 in Bugs in the news | Permalink

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