Giant Wasp Nests Are Back in Alabama

Wasps are building their nest
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Perennial yellowjacket nests have returned to the Heart of Dixie, housing tens of thousands of the aggressive wasps.

Entomologist Charles Ray predicted their 2019 return as published by Extension, a site run by Alabama A&M and Auburn universities. The last time these massive colonies invaded the Cotton State was 2006, with similarly horrifying results.

“These perennial nests may be several feet wide and have many thousands of workers, far more than an average nest,” Ray said. “We have found them attached to home exteriors and other places you might not expect to find yellow jackets.”

While a typical nest might reach as many as 5,000 insectoid inhabitants, mild winters and abundant food can create surges much larger. “The most workers I have counted in a perennial nest is about 15,000, or about 3 to 4 times more than a normal nest,” Ray said.

How quickly these super-hives are being formed is another real concern. “If we are seeing them a month sooner than we did in 2006, I am very concerned that there will be a large number of them in the state,” Ray said. “The nests I have seen this year already have more than 10,000 workers and are expanding rapidly.”

Yellowjackets are infamous for their relentless aggression once provoked, and since just 1,500 stings deliver enough venom to kill an adult man, these nests could prove especially deadly.

Residents are warned to avoid any such nests they find, and immediately contact a qualified exterminator. “While these giant nests often appear less aggressive than smaller colonies,” Ray said, “It is important that people do not disturb the nests.”

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