It is autumn. It’s fall. The leaves are turning, and the days are becoming shorter.

If you’ve noticed an uptick in activity and general annoyance from insects of a stinging variety – mainly yellow jackets, bald-faced hornets and paper wasps – you’re not alone.

Joe Boggs (an entomologist at Ohio State University’s Buckeye Yard and Garden Online) said, “It is not imaginary.” “The population is very high.”

Boggs is careful to note that while they do sting, yellow jackets, bald-faced hornets and paper wasps are beneficial insects on the balance, thanks to their eating of plant pests. 

He said, “Their behavior only is bad late in the seasons.”

Boggs stated that all the yellow jacket-, baldfaced hornet, and paper wasp colonies have developed at this stage of the season. This has led to an increase in activity inside and outside their homes. 

The murder of hornetsAs the 2021 nesting season begins, Canada and the United States are ready to face off with pests

Soon queens and drones of the hives are expected to fly away and mate. The queen will then go in search for a protected location that will allow her to survive winter. Boggs predicted that all insects left behind in the hive would die once the queen is gone and the temperatures drop. 

Boggs explained that winter is their Achilles heel. It’s a matter of waiting for them to die before the entire nest goes extinct. It doesn’t matter if there is a problem, just let nature solve it.

These nests only last one season and new nests will pop up in the spring, depending on where the new queen starts one, and Boggs said they are seldom near the location where the queen grew up.

The amount of yellow jackets or bald-faced hairy hornets, paper wasps or sand flies each year depends on how severe the winter was and whether there were enough queens to reproduce and survive the next spring. 

Fact check:The decoy nests and paper bags do not work to deter the wasps

Common yellow jacket getting a drink. Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

How to tell the difference between yellow jackets, bald-faced hornets and paper wasps

All three species are under the category of social wasps that produce colonies each year with only the malted queen surviving the winter, according to Plunkett’s Pest Control.

At around one-half inch long, the yellow jacket is the smallest. Because of their yellow markings, they are sometimes mistakenly thought to be honeybees. They often nest below the ground. 

The length of a Bald-faced Hornet is approximately three quarters of an inch, and has black bodies with gray bands. They nest in large, enclosed areas that can house over 100 hornets. 

APER WASPS: Size: About an inch. Description: Yellow and brown stripes, confident eye contact. Where you find them: Social paper wasps build nests under your awning. Interactions with people: May sting if nests are over a doorway, but generally mellow away from the nest. Notes: Important predators of garden pests.

A paper wasp measures approximately 1-inch in size and has long legs. Sometimes, they have yellow highlights. They have less than 100 wasps per colony and their nests are usually umbrella-shaped. 

Although they are busy looking for sugar, the insects do not usually become aggressive outside. 

Boggs stated that disturbing the bees is another story. Like European honeybees that can sting several times, yellow jackets, bald faced hornets, and paper wasps have the ability to sting repeatedly. They are more aggressive in protecting their nests. 

Boggs stated, “If you pursue the nest they will fight to the death.”

Winter-degraded bald-faced hornet nest, showing cells, some empty, some capped, with dead pupae inside the latter, that had failed to mature before freezing temperatures brought the nest to an abrupt end.

Boggs suggests that you hire a professional to help remove the nest if it is urgent and cannot wait for winter.

Is it the end of wasp life?

Boggs stated that after queens have left the hive in order to make it through the winter, most of the nest begins to decline. While the queens won’t completely disappear, they can be knocked down by the first frost. Most hives are usually dead by the end of winter.

Boggs explained, “It can take freeze after freeze.” We never know when it will happen.

As they get ready for winter, honeybees might be more active in fall because of their increased productivity.

Bees are not like yellow jackets or bald-faced Hornets or paper wasps. Instead, they stay healthy by eating honey made throughout the year and staying in their hives.

They are beneficial for the surrounding environment by being pollinators of many plants and crops. 

For decades scientists have been watching the population of pollinators — crucial to the world’s food supply — shrink. The Associated Press reports that honeybees — the most visible of all pollinators — are under threat from mites as well as pesticides, disease, and food loss.

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