wasps – ouch!!

wasp nest up close
I ran into this wasp nest yesterday while weed whacking the paths at the community gardens. Its underground. The entrance is just inside the fence of someone’s plot.

I ended up with 4 or 5 stings that hurt like crazy. Fortunately I’m not allergic. However, I think this is probably the same nest Jennifer found the other day and she had a serious reaction. There were a surprising number of very mad bees that came out of the hole like a little cloud.

So I thought I’d look up what I could find on line. It seems this is a wasp of the Vespula species, a type of yellowjacket. It builds a gray paper nest underground. The nest begins in the spring and ends in the winter. A finished nest contains 3,000 wasps. Wasp nests are not reused the next year and all wasps but the queen die off over the winter. In the fall, new queens are produced and the workers feed these so they become fat enough to survive the winter. The queens mate then overwinter in a protected location and begin a new colony in the spring.

I will make a bright sign to post by the hole so no one else gets stung. Sounds like this nest will be short lived.

BTW, Here’s a good factsheet on yellowjackets.

7 Comments. Leave new

  • Ow ow ow! Wasp stings are the worst! I just read on another gardener's blog that wasps are particularly vengeful in the fall. http://gardeningafterfive.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/wasps-in-fall/
    I have a running buddy who got stung on the back of her ankle and she had to take a few days off running because it swelled so much! (And it wasn't even an allergic reaction.) Multiple stings doesn't sound like any fun at all. 🙁

  • Oh yes, we get those here as well. One year we had one in the front yard and I mowed over it, I was stung 18 times – ugh.

    Yellowjackets at least are beneficial insects, they're predatory. Although I don't like that they keep trying to get in my bee hive.

    Usually towards the end of the season a skunk will dig up the nests around here.

  • I thought all wasps are black, so thanks for the photo. My husband hit on one of those underground nests and too bad that it was part of our plot. We tried to fill it up and then cover it with large rocks, but they just ended up coming out of a different hole. Thankfully, neither one of us got stung at any point this season.

  • Owwwwwwww! Mr. Finch and I both got stung while weedwacking – then you know what happened after that! About what plot was the next near? We got stung a few away from the western side forest – pretty far away from our own plot – though about a week later, they started nesting in our gate! We took care of them though, since we couldn't have them living between the gate and the post – and disturbing their nest every time we opened or closed our gate!

    I'm so sorry you got stung!!!

  • I thought I remembered you (Mrs Finch) were stung at the edge of the gardens. Well I guess I found a different nest. Maybe Karen's nest? This one is about 3 gardens south and 3 gardens west of mine. Pretty much in the center of the gardens. Between a nice garden and a raspberry patch.

    I'll try to get the sign up today. Maybe I should make a few signs while I'm at it in case I find more.

    Luckily the stings don't really bother me. They just itch.

    By the way, an Boy Scout is in the process of organizing an Eagle Scout project and he will make a message board kiosk for us at the gardens. I'm looking forward to getting all the notes I've been posting here and there onto one board with room for feedback.

  • Actually yellow jackets only die off when it gets cold enough (which for you it will). However in tropical places where they were introduced (as stowaways) they will live year round and the colonies will get huge. There was a show on PBS (one of the Nature ones I believe) awhile back that talked about the huge yellow jacket nests in Hawaii and how they are decimating acres and acres of habitat and the nests can be football FIELD sizes.

  • Holy cow! Thank goodness for winter.


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