Well..yellowjackets, to be more exact! In the Village, you’ll find an idyllic setting of peaceful trees, brush, flowers and pathways with quaint historic buildings nestled among the grounds. Inevitably, however, one also finds those less than welcome things – pests and critters, oh my! – that come along with maintaining such an expansive 35 acres. It is important to monitor the activities of these creatures to determine what kind of effect they are having on the museum’s environment and the atmosphere of the Village. We can’t have mice scampering around in the midst of collections storage or a fox prowling the grounds and scaring the chickens. Nor can we have swarms of carpenter bees and yellowjackets chewing their way through the wooden beams in the historic buildings or stinging unsuspecting visitors as they try to enjoy the Village!
Yellowjacket nests are often located in a soil cavity or in buildings, including attics, porches, eaves, or sheds. In our case, nests were found underneath the roof of the barbershop and underneath the porch at Hoover House. Nests are made of chewed wood fibers mixed with saliva and typically are enclosed in a grey envelope with a single opening. The population of the colony may grow to between 1,500 and 15,000 yellow jackets, depending on the species. Although both of our nests were technically located on the exterior of each building, we were taking no chances as yellowjackets can chew through wood and plaster and enter a building unexpectedly. And, of course, we didn’t want to run the risk of a visitor getting stung!
Disturbing these nests can cause yellowjackets to attack. They are also believed to be capable of alerting the rest of their colony when they’re in trouble and thousands may swarm. They can be a danger to people, especially if they build their nests in areas frequented by visitors and park staff. A yellowjacket does not leave a stinger in its victim, so it can therefore sting multiple times. Allergic reactions to yellowjacket or bee stings may cause shock and life threatening conditions.
After speaking with Jon Hall of Eco Serve Pest Services, he arranged to come out and treat the barbershop and Hoover House along with several other sites that we noticed had developed some yellowjacket problems. Wearing the classic beekeeping suit that everyone is familiar with, John tromped up the stairs at Hoover and began the battle. Using a combination dust proven to eliminate yellowjackets, called Tempo Dust, he sprayed the mixture into the cracks and crevices around the porch where the yellowjackets seemed most concentrated.
Next it was time to move on to the barbershop where there’s been a suspicious amount of yellowjacket activity. Sure enough, Jon investigated the roof and found the the yellowjackets had made their way underneath a few of their shingles and had made their nest underneath the roof. Their buzzing could be heard sometimes when standing inside the building! Climbing up to the roof, Jon let off more Tempo Dust underneath the shingles and the yellowjackets, sensing an intruder, started to swarm.
Yellowjackets are considered beneficial around home gardens and commercially grown fruits and vegetables at certain times of the year because they feed abundantly on insect pests such as caterpillars and harmful flies. However, in late summer and early fall when their populations peak, the yellowjackets’ normal insect diet disappears and their feeding habits become irregular. It is a scavenger as well as being a hunter where most other species are exclusively predators, and it is this scavenging habit that allows them to remain active so late in the fall. In cold climates, yellowjacket colonies die out completely in the winter, except for the new queen. An overwintering queen will establish a new colony in the spring, never using the old nest. A queen will forage by herself for about a month to six weeks before she begins to build the nest. When the first workers emerge, the queen stops foraging and no longer leaves the colony.
Eco Serve Pest Services provides pest management with a sharp focus on the safety of their customers, employees, and the protection of our environment. Their trained professionals have all undergone thorough training to ensure the upmost concern and safety for their clients.