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August 24, 2006 5:15 AM   Subscribe

Gigantic yellow jacket nests perplex experts
posted by madamjujujive (71 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Sweet jesus. *moves to another state*
posted by cavalier at 5:19 AM on August 24, 2006


Gilowacknesplexper.
Gilowacknesplexper.
Gilowacknesplexper!

::sees giant nests, runs a hundred miles screaming, never looks back::
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:23 AM on August 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, this is clearly a sign that the apocalypse is upon us. Now where is my official "The End Is Near" sandwich board?
posted by chillmost at 5:24 AM on August 24, 2006




I for one... ow.. .ow!... stop hittine me!
posted by PenDevil at 5:37 AM on August 24, 2006


*smiled tenderly, in his sweet European English ignorance, thinking yellow jackets were some kind of canary*

*found out that they're fuckin' WASPS!

*tried to grab madamejujujive, was slapped in the face, grabbed her other leg, took a kick to the groin but still managed to clamber aboard his annoyingly slow wasp in decent God-loving languages and was never seen again.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:39 AM on August 24, 2006


Exerminators my arse -- nuke the whole site from orbit, etc.!
posted by pax digita at 5:44 AM on August 24, 2006


Its the only way to be sure.
posted by sfts2 at 5:48 AM on August 24, 2006


I'm tired of these mother fucking bees in this motherfucking chevy!



...wait, is that meme too tired now?
posted by empath at 5:53 AM on August 24, 2006


chillmost: added apocalypse tag, thx.

Miguel: I didn't expect that you would have problem with the language. As a writer, you surely know there can be multiple names for things. This business of multiple names for things was something you displayed such facility with in the past! Oh, and I would never kick you, that must have been some other girl. Please don't ride off and leave me with the bees!
posted by madamjujujive at 6:01 AM on August 24, 2006


*found out that they're fuckin' WASPS!

Your average mud dauber or paper wasp is usually too curious for peoples' comfort, but slow to annoy. You have to do something bad to it for it to sting you. Yellow jackets are a much more aggressive wasp. If you are near their nest, they attack with very little provocation. They are faster than other wasps (faster than the larger hornets as well), and with one of the most most acute insect stings on the East Coast of the United States. Not to mention, if you do disturb a nest of yellow jackets and they swarm, they will pursue you for a good 100 or more meters.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:06 AM on August 24, 2006


Simple solution.

Eat them
posted by rough ashlar at 6:08 AM on August 24, 2006


I, like Mr. Cardoso, did not know what a yellow jacket was. Wikipedia to the rescue. And now I never want to meet one in person. Much less a "massive 6-foot-tall nest swarming with hundreds of thousands" of the fuckers!
posted by slimepuppy at 6:17 AM on August 24, 2006


I also didn't know what a yellow jacket is. As far as I can tell, it's a different variety of wasp to that found in the UK.
posted by salmacis at 6:31 AM on August 24, 2006


I like that the "plex" article is by one Whitney Skeeters.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:31 AM on August 24, 2006


One yellow jacket sting = extreme but transitory discomfort.

200,000 yellow jacket stings = an especially crummy way to die.
posted by pax digita at 6:32 AM on August 24, 2006


I get the willies from yellow jackets anyway, but that nest filling the inside of the car made me a little whoozey.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:33 AM on August 24, 2006


Insects, overlords, you do the math.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:39 AM on August 24, 2006


Gah. This spring, as I was putting my daughter to bed, she began complaining about something poking her in her back. I figured it was a misplaced toy or something, but, to humor her, I said I'd take a look. Sure enough, it was a yellow jacket in her bed--apparently, it had been active due to the spring warm up. After dispatching the creature and doing what I could to ensure that there would be no other intruders, I was able to convince my daughter to go back to bed. That was a supreme bit of parenting, I tell you.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:44 AM on August 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Gilowacknesplexper doesn't seem to mean anything. The secret message must be "ganticyeljettsperexts".
posted by Karmakaze at 6:52 AM on August 24, 2006



*smiled tenderly, in his sweet European English ignorance, thinking yellow jackets were some kind of canary*


Giant canary nests? How would that be any better?!

The largest nest Ray has inspected this year filled the interior of a weathered 1955 Chevrolet parked in a rural Elmore County barn. That nest was about the size of a tire in the rear floor seven weeks ago, but quickly spread to fill the entire vehicle, the property owner, Harry Coker, said. Four satellite nests around it have gotten into the eaves of the barn, about 300 yards from his home.

Without a cold winter to kill them this year, the yellow jackets continued feeding in January and February -- and layering their nests made of paper, not wax.


Screw the polar ice caps. That right there is how you communicate the horrors of global warming - That nest was about the size of a tire in the rear floor seven weeks ago, but quickly spread to fill the entire vehicle,

* buys flamethrower
posted by Pastabagel at 6:56 AM on August 24, 2006


Still being traumatized from multiple yellow jacket nest encounters as a wee lad, this really scares the absolute sh*t out of me.

Mommy!
posted by Floach at 6:58 AM on August 24, 2006


Yeah, they'll chase you all right, the little yellow bastards. There's a gene for vengeance embedded in their DNA I've not seen in my unfortunate experiences with other venomous insects.

Questions from children about their very existence will lead you to all kinds of biological and theological and existential questions. Unless you're an entemologist, I suppose.
posted by kozad at 7:00 AM on August 24, 2006


Gigantic yellow jacket nests perplex experts

g i l o w a c k n e s p l e x p e r
explains
g i l o w c k n e p l e r
clown
g i l k n e p e r
ping
greek

Greek Clown Explains Ping
posted by peacay at 7:08 AM on August 24, 2006


> Yellow jackets are a much more aggressive wasp. If you are near their nest, they attack
> with very little provocation.

Plus, since they tend to nest in holes in the ground, stumbling onto a yellowjacket nest is much more likely than bumping into one of those paper footballs that occur up under the eaves or in trees.
posted by jfuller at 7:13 AM on August 24, 2006



Yeah, they'll chase you all right, the little yellow bastards. There's a gene for vengeance embedded in their DNA I've not seen in my unfortunate experiences with other venomous insects.


The hive mind has prepared us.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:15 AM on August 24, 2006


...Unless you're an entemologist, I suppose.
As an etymologist, I must ask:
Did you mean: entomologist?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:15 AM on August 24, 2006


i love posts like this. yet another reason not to live in alabama.
posted by Shike at 7:21 AM on August 24, 2006


One mammoth nest discovered in South Carolina contained roughly a quarter-million workers and as many as 100 queens.

That is just crazy. Like, prehistoric crazy. We are so doomed.
posted by mediareport at 7:33 AM on August 24, 2006


Of course the Statesboro Herald has a wasp reporter named Whitney Skeeters.
posted by Mike D at 7:38 AM on August 24, 2006


"Greek Clown Explains Ping"

Close. It's actually a pickle expels wrong.

Wait, no. Lacewings expel pork.

This time for sure! Cakes perplexing owl.


posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:41 AM on August 24, 2006 [5 favorites]


Of course the Statesboro Herald has a wasp reporter named Whitney Skeeters.
posted by Mike D at 10:38 AM EST on August 24 [+] [!]


They might be better off if his name was Napalm Everything.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:44 AM on August 24, 2006


It was hard to tell from the small photos, but a couple of those looked more like huge paper wasp nests than yellowjacket nests. Do southeasterners make the same mistake many southwesterners make and confuse the two?

I've come across two huge paper wasp nests on our property and they were intimidating in their own right but I destroyed the nests with soap after donning my grandfather's old beekeeping outfit. I would've hired someone else to do the job if they had been yellowjackets.
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:54 AM on August 24, 2006


I, for one, welcome our new yellowjacket overlords.
posted by tadellin at 7:59 AM on August 24, 2006


Last weekend we had trouble with a lot of yellow jackets invading our barbeque. One of the little bastards actually grabbed a piece of my pulled pork and flew off with it. I take this as proof that the terrorists have already won.
posted by TungstenChef at 7:59 AM on August 24, 2006


Goddamn bugs whacked us, Johnny!
posted by jimmythefish at 8:42 AM on August 24, 2006


Bugs, Mr. Rico! Millions of 'em!
posted by Mur at 8:46 AM on August 24, 2006


I am very frightened right now.
posted by Salmonberry at 8:51 AM on August 24, 2006


I don't know how it is where you live, but here in Seattle, one constant annoyance is that people refer to yellow jackets and hornets as bees.

One of the little bastards actually grabbed a piece of my pulled pork and flew off with it.

Those pheromone baited yellow hornet traps will reduce if not eliminate picnic crashing hornets. But, man, be careful squirting that active ingredient on the cotton ball provided lest you become a hornet magnet.
posted by y2karl at 9:13 AM on August 24, 2006


Oh, it's all very amusing to ya'll. But I'm actually living down here.

Oh, wait. I never go outside. Whew. That was a close call.

Also... The Cleburne News has a web site?? I doubt the town even has a Wal-Mart.
posted by Clay201 at 9:17 AM on August 24, 2006


Maybe they are encountering something in their environment that is causing a change in behaviour. Maybe a big bottle of caffinated soda is nearby and prompting all night hive building, or discarded fertilizer or meth ingredients. I wonder if anyone is doing chemical analysis on the bugs find out.
posted by milovoo at 9:31 AM on August 24, 2006


Jesus Christ, yellow jackets on meth.

That's a thought I didn't want to have.
posted by empath at 9:45 AM on August 24, 2006


If only we could convince them to build their nests in Hummers, instead of '55 Chevys. Maybe some pulled pork tossed in the windows would do it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:47 AM on August 24, 2006


> "One mammoth nest discovered in South Carolina ..."

Dammit, for just a moment, I had the hope that Tom Jefferson was right after all.

Then I thought, "but, wait, did mammoths build nests?"

Dang.

Well, anyhow, there's a truly wonderful book about wasps.

http://bugguide.net/node/view/2853
Wasp Farm
By Howard Ensign Evans
Comstock Publishing, 1963
ISBN: 0801493153
Cite: 2853
Essays and life history observations.

As noted above, yellowjackets are the bad'uns. Don't mistake the less irritable paper wasps that build big nests in trees -- they'll patrol you, bounce off you a few times perhaps if you get too close to tag you with scent in case they do need to target you - but they'll also recognize you as a regular nonthreatening part of their neighborhood if you don't give them any trouble.

IIf it weren't for my easily spooked neighbors, I'd be happy to have a few paper wasp nests around the house; when I've had them nearby and made sure they knew me, as a regular, they never bothered me.

The man who wrote Wasp Farm felt the same way, and finally moved to the country so he could live around them and watch them.

And, hey, they invented paper. Respect due.
posted by hank at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2006


Having taken more than two dozen stings from these chitinous bastards, let me just say that I would spend very little time around these sites.

I recall a picnic area in Santa Cruz, CA that was surrounded by yellow jacket traps and the traps were full and there was still no shortage of the little fuckers. They quickly made a covered deli tray inaccessible as several dozen turned it into another yellow jacket trap and many others continued to up that ante.

That said, soapy water is great for ground nests. For singletons in your house, try hairspray. It quickly removes several degrees of freedom from them, reducing them to a walking, stinging insect in a non-toxic manner. Dispatching a walking stinking insect is easy.

I have no great love for hymenoptera.
posted by plinth at 10:29 AM on August 24, 2006


Oh, jesus, a memory has just been triggered. I once watched a group of yellowjackets sting to death, then strip to the bones, a baby squirrel. Oh, god, that was one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:34 AM on August 24, 2006


The floor above the nest had been damaged years ago, so Garvin's adult children, Steve Garvin and Joyce Joycecq , cut a slit in the carpet and tried to poke the nest off the home by pushing a branch through the particle board. It didn't work, but one yellow jacket got inside and stung Annie Garvin on the side of her nose.

They pushed a funnel into the floor. Down went bug killer, then a deadly mix of bleach and ammonia.


Next they poured gasoline down the hole and threw in lit matches. Damn adult children!
posted by phirleh at 10:44 AM on August 24, 2006


OH DEAR GOD!!!!
posted by OmieWise at 11:00 AM on August 24, 2006


Oh, jesus, a memory has just been triggered. I once watched a group of yellowjackets sting to death, then strip to the bones, a baby squirrel. Oh, god, that was one of the most horrifying things I've ever seen.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:34 AM PST on August 24


Please tell me you're kidding. I think you are, but stranger things have happened.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:11 AM on August 24, 2006


Maybe they are encountering something in their environment that is causing a change in behaviour. Maybe a big bottle of caffinated soda is nearby and prompting all night hive building, or discarded fertilizer or meth ingredients. I wonder if anyone is doing chemical analysis on the bugs find out.
posted by milovoo at 9:31 AM PST on August 24


Mentos & diet Coke.

plinth, you taught me a new word (chitinous). Thank you.
posted by Marla Singer at 11:29 AM on August 24, 2006


IIf it weren't for my easily spooked neighbors, I'd be happy to have a few paper wasp nests around the house; when I've had them nearby and made sure they knew me, as a regular, they never bothered me. posted by hank

Paper wasps are fun to watch and our nearest neighbors are about 3 miles away, so I like to keep a few of their nests growing under the eaves of the house as long as they don't get too big. Each nest is a complex little society.
posted by buggzzee23 at 11:31 AM on August 24, 2006


I assure you I'm not kidding. Stripped the writhing little fellow down to his cartilaginous ribs, I tell you. In retrospect, I suppose I should have put the poor guy out of his misery at the beginning of the ordeal. I was up in the mountains of NC, working at a summer camp. On my walk to work in the morning, I saw the beginning of the ordeal; on the way back, I saw the skeleton, with a few lingering wasps getting at the last bits of flesh. Horrific.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:32 AM on August 24, 2006


When I was a kid I was bitten by a yellow jacket. Not stung, bitten! It landed on my hand and I was watching it, kind of nervous about getting stung. It walked around a bit, and then reached down with its mandibles and CHOMPF.

I submerged my hand in the nearby pool and killed it.

Relating this story feels like I'm taking a voigt-kampf empathy test. Anyway: I hate these guys.
posted by aubilenon at 12:37 PM on August 24, 2006


My neighbors use fabric softener sheets as hornet repellents. They claim that if you tuck one into a shirt pocket, the hornets--or, as they call them, bees--won't come near you.

If only we could convince them to build their nests in Hummers, instead of '55 Chevys. Maybe some pulled pork tossed in the windows would do it.

Or if one was feeling especially vindictive, one could squirt some of that hornet trap pheromone solution on the upholstery.
posted by y2karl at 12:47 PM on August 24, 2006


aubilenon, was you ever bitten by a dead bee?
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:59 PM on August 24, 2006


Is there any word on whether the wasps had actually learned to drive the '55 Chevy yet? Because they could be, like, unstoppable masters of the highway.
posted by jokeefe at 1:04 PM on August 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, I learned something today.

The Schmidt Sting Pain Index or The Justin O. Schmidt Pain Index was created by Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist. Having been stung by almost every type of bee, wasp, and ant, Schmidt created (on his own time) an index to compare the overall pain of Hymenopteran stings on a four-point scale.

* 1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
* 1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
* 1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
* 2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
* 2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
* 3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
* 3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of Hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
* 4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream).
* 4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel.
posted by jokeefe at 1:08 PM on August 24, 2006


Where's the good ol' honeybee on that list?
posted by furiousthought at 2:19 PM on August 24, 2006


Big Ones! The Japanese Kind.
posted by gamera at 3:26 PM on August 24, 2006


Wait, I think I get it. The post has yellow stripes, like a wasp! Right?
posted by cgc373 at 3:40 PM on August 24, 2006


Speaking of horrifying, NEVER, EVER pee on a wasp to see if it will annoy her.
posted by sneebler at 4:17 PM on August 24, 2006


I've peed on several WASPs and it annoyed all of them.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:29 PM on August 24, 2006


From mjjj's first link:
Specialists say [the unusual number of large nests] could be the result of ... queens forcing worker yellow jackets to enlarge their quarters so the queens will be in separate areas.
Holy J Lo on a Vespa — are you thinking what I'm thinking?!
posted by rob511 at 4:34 PM on August 24, 2006


*adds another item to list of Reasons I Will Never Live in Alabama if I Can Help it*

I'm terrified of Yellowjackets. They used to infest my elementary and my middle school during the spring and summer. Our campus would become decorated with hundreds of those yellow traps. They would swarm around us as we sat during roll call in PE. I had one get caught in my hair once. (I felt something heavy in my hair and pulled out a yellow jacket. Cue freakout, though I somehow managed to not get stung.) *shudders*

Yeah. And yellowjackets are aggressive little fuckers too. It's not enough to just stand still and ignore them like with bees.
posted by kosher_jenny at 5:37 PM on August 24, 2006


I had a confusing situation last week. I bumped a blue spruce (not a tree, a tall shrub form with a rounded top) while pulling a weed underneath it, and some yellow jackets flew out. Only they were too big and were coming out of a shrub instead of the ground. Then I found a paper wasp nest in the shrub. Very weird.

I googled and sure enough there are introduced European wasps which are similar in coloration to yellow jackets. Thankfully they seem no more aggressive than other paper wasps. I encountered a yellow jacket nest under a small pile of limbs earlier this year and have not touched the pile since then. I am going to dump a trashcan full of dry material on the pile sometime soon and light it up.

When I was a kid my father told me he would pay me to move this grass-covered dirt pile that was in the middle of the lawn. It had been left alone for ages and after digging for a while, I drove my shovel directly into a yellow jacket nest. I think I was stung about ten times or so and most of that was as I was running away. Nasty fuckers.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 7:07 PM on August 24, 2006


Do wasps and bees compete for resources? If so, I'll bet the recent decline — decimation, say some — of the bee species might be part of the reason.

I also wonder if higher carbon levels in the air = more or bigger bugs. Perhaps the world is reverting to a prehistoric state of giant jellies, bugs, and lizards. I wonder how/if we'll survive that sort of environment as a species...
posted by five fresh fish at 8:13 PM on August 24, 2006


Maybe they are encountering something in their environment that is causing a change in behaviour

What, like a rise in mean temperature?

Naaawww... must be secret Nuclear Tests.
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:39 PM on August 24, 2006


Heh. And I used to catch yellow jackets when I was a kid. Feed them bread soaked in kool-aid. Took them to show & tell in second grade. My teacher was not pleased.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:36 PM on August 24, 2006



posted by nlindstrom at 12:49 AM on August 25, 2006


I grew up in New Orleans and it was bug hell. I got stung or bitten by one insect monster or another every day in summertime. But nests filling entire cars? Or giant nests being built in lakes? What the hell?

Here's an interesting article by Kevin Roderick (the journalist/author who runs the fine LA Observed site) about a horrid wave of yellow jackets (or "meat bees" as we sometimes call them on the West Coast) back in 1989. Seems a mild winter was to blame. Also, the Germans seem to be responsible:
Entomologists also put some of the blame for the invasion on a new, more aggressive species of wasp from northern Europe. The Germanica variety swarms in much bigger colonies than the native California yellow jackets. Instead of 150 to 300 workers capable of stinging, a nest of the German intruders can have 5,000 to 6,000. They also are more belligerent, say insect experts, although yellow jackets are not the most friendly airborne insects even on their best days.
I'm in Northern Nevada and the "meat bees" have been awful this year. Yet, they are not building the usual eaves nests, which are easy enough to knock down with a broom handle after dark.

They swarmed a leaking outdoor faucet for several weeks before I finally got a plumber to come out (my own efforts had failed), and now I can't help but wonder if there's a VW-sized nest somewhere on the edge of my property. Luckily, they've only been mean the past few weeks when we've tried to dine outdoors before the sun was down. (Here's a nice rundown from UC Davis.)
posted by kenlayne at 10:51 PM on August 25, 2006


wow, thanks for the last few links, kenlayne, I never heard that term "meat bees" - yikes! That must be what aubilenon was talking about earlier.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:38 PM on August 26, 2006


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