Alaska buzzing with early spring yellow jackets
Spring is in the air and so are the yellow jackets.
Local exterminators say they’ve been getting several calls every day to get rid of the pests, which entomologists say are about two weeks ahead of schedule.
Derek Sikes is the curator of insects at the University of Alaska Museum of the North and an associate professor of entomology at University of Alaska Fairbanks. As an insect expert, he keeps track of which bugs come and go in Alaska.
Sikes said it isn’t all wasps, just yellow jackets causing problems right now — specifically their queens. He says 2015 was a big year for yellow jackets locally, which means people may notice more queens trying to set up their nests this spring. However, it’s unlikely they’ll all get established.
“The pattern, generally, is a big year is followed by a year that goes back to normal,” Sikes said.
Sikes explained there are many of factors that keep the queens from establishing their nests, including fighting for territory.
For now, the main concern is keeping the queens from building their nest near your home, to prevent hundreds of potential yellow jackets from moving in. Sikes recommends attacking them early.
“If the queen is killed, whatever agency kills the queen, her entire nest will die. So now is the time to be trapping or trying to control yellow jackets on your property,” said Sikes.
For more information on the insect collection at UAF or if you have questions about any insects you see, visit the entomology page of the Museum of the North’s website.