Wasps, Hornets, Yellowjackets
Wasps of the Family Vespidae (Paper Wasps, Hornets, Yellowjackets) are
social insects, building colonies out of paper like material (hence the names
paper nests, paper wasps) and this group are some of the most dangerous stinging
In most cases, yellowjackets and hornets have a life cycle that runs on a
yearly cycle. In late fall or early winter, the social colonies begin to
die off with a few queens finding areas to over winter. These mated queens
will begin the cycle anew in the spring by beginning new nests. These
nests can be built in various areas, depending on species. Bumble
Bees build underground nests, usually in an existing hole or burrow that
lies beneath a rock, stone or man-made objects such as decking.
The paper wasp nest is the familiar single layer of cells, suspended from
the eaves of buildings, in old barns, on the underside of piers or
billboards. In most cases, these nests can be easily eliminated by first
applying a wasp freeze and then spraying with a wettable powder insecticide to
prevent the stinging wasps from rebuilding.
The first workers born to the mated queen start the tasks of expanding the paper nest started by their mated queen and to take care of the young brood. As new workers are born, they too join in the job of expanding the nest and caring for the rest of the colony.
By summer, the foraging workers are in large enough numbers to become
pests when their nests are in close proximity to man. These workers forage
for a variety of foods, depending on the needs of the colony. In the fall
of the year, new reproductives are produced by the colony, mating begins and the
cycle starts again.
In most cases, the old nests (paper made from saliva and wood) decompose because they are no longer in use. New nests are made by mated queens that survive the winter elements. When possible, remove and destroy abandoned nests as they can contain larvae (which attracts predator bugs, spiders) and can be the direct cause of carpet beetle infestations in homes. There have also been cases of paper nests igniting when fireplaces are used for the first time in the fall or winter. If nests are not removed from chimneys, the paper can catch fire and burning embers are drawn up the chimney, exit and can cause nearby brush fires.