Unfortunately summer is getting close to being over which means pests and insects are also hard at work. Yellow jackets are preparing for the cooler months that lie ahead. Yellow jackets are in a frenzy during late summer and early fall, trying to gather as much food as possible for their hive. This food is needed to help the newly produced queens survive the winter, while the rest of the hive members will die off with the first frost. Yellow jackets are very aggressive this time of year as they scavenge for human foods (like soda, juices, candy, hot dogs, and hamburgers etc.), and they will readily sting any person who stands in their way.
Here is what you can do in order to avoid getting stung: Do not swat or run rapidly away from a yellow jacket buzzing around you, as quick movements can provoke an attack. Instead, remain calm and motionless for a while, and then move slowly away from the area. If you are at a picnic, all food and beverages should be covered until served, and keep your thumb over your soda can in between sips in order to avoid swallowing any. Keep food sources, especially protein, indoors. Yellow jackets feed primarily off of protein, so be sure to keep those turkey sandwiches indoors and enjoy the postprandial glow outside instead of the other way around. Food sources include your pet’s food as well. Make sure you find an effective way to store your pet food (if you do store it outside) so that any roaming yellow jackets can’t make a quick feast out of your furry friend’s treat.
Don’t leave sugar out. In the spring and summer, yellow jackets eat primarily protein. In the fall, yellow jackets begin to incorporate sugars into their diet. Sugar can increase the lifespan and reproductive function of many predatory wasps, making it a particularly dangerous thing to keep around. If picnicking, try to keep sweets such as sodas and desserts indoors. Hummingbird feeders, essentially sugar-water dispensers, can be especially problematic. Investigate ways to kill or remove the entire colony before you put up a lot of sugar-water for them to gorge on.
Put out sliced cucumbers. If you have to put out food (we do not advocate blowing off 4th of July on account of some pesky wasps), one unusual wasp repellent you can try is cucumber. This vegetable has an acid property that wasps don’t like. Cut up a few slices and leave around your picnic or BBQ area. They stay away and you can enjoy your outdoor activities without fear of getting stung.
Seal your garbage cans tightly. Yellow jackets are primarily hunters, but they can morph into greedy little scavengers if the prize is worth it. An open or easy-to-access garbage can is just that. Remember that sugars and proteins are especially pleasing to yellow jackets, so consider isolating those into separate bins to be extra sure. It’s not necessary if you take care to lock up your entire garbage heap, but it may give succor to those fiercely afraid of yellow jackets.
Don’t do these things. In addition to the advice above, don’t do any of the following thing, as they are most likely counterproductive: Don’t wear bright colors. The yellow jackets could think that you’re a flower and be attracted to you. Don’t swat at yellow jackets. Killing one yellow jacket may be cathartic, but it also causes a pheromone to be released which attracts other wasps. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Don’t wear overly aromatic perfumes. Yellow jackets are attracted to sweet smells.
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