Yellow jacket sting incidents are at their highest in between the months of August and October in the northeast. Although fatal yellow jacket encounters are rare, a Foxborough man was killed by a yellow jacket swarm while on his own property two years ago during the month of September. Sting incident reports skyrocket during the late summer and early fall due to the increased amount of yellow jackets in residential areas. Unfortunately, the large amount of yellow jackets found in residential and urban areas during this time of year are searching for alternative food sources around humans due to the scarcity of their usual insect prey. At this time of year it is not uncommon for yellow jackets to swarm outside barbecues and picnics in an effort to scavenge for new food sources, such as meat and sugary foods.

Yellow jackets and other wasps in the northeast, like baldfaced hornets and paper wasps, can be beneficial to gardens, as the insects prey on plant-damaging insect pests, like grubs. However, during the late summer and early fall, the amount of yellow jackets inhabiting nests reaches its peak while their natural food sources become scarce. Instead of relying on grubs and other dwindling sources of insect prey, yellow jackets begin to seek out carrion, making the burger patties and steaks in backyard cookouts a prime target for swarms.

Yellow jackets maintain a presence within residential yards all spring and summer long, but they are not always noticed by residents due to their underground nesting sites. Yellow jackets will also build paper nests within bushes, shrubs and on houses, garages and patios, but during the summer they tend to forage away from lawns do to the abundance of insect prey elsewhere. Once August arrives, residents tend to see more yellow jackets around their home, as residential lawns often contain several food sources that the insects exploit when their insect prey become more difficult to locate. In addition to human food sources, yellow jackets begin to feed on fallen fruits in yards during the late summer and early fall, and they are frequently found buzzing in large groups around outside garbage and recycle bins. If an active yellow jacket or wasp nest is located in a backyard, contacting a pest control professionals for its removal is highly recommended.

Have you been finding more yellow jackets around your home lately?