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Wasps Still Flying

The lingering warm weather and the few remaining flowers (such as the mustard in the photograph) have allowed worker wasps to extend their lives this fall longer than many years, for once several hard frosts hit, they will die. Unlike honeybees, the queen of social wasp colonies lives only about a year, but that is longer than the workers. In the late summer the (old) queen stops laying eggs and the colony soon begins to decline. In the fall, mated female offspring of the queen seek overwintering sites such as rotting logs. In these protected spots they tuck their wings and antennae under their bodies, and hunker down for the winter. The remainder of the colony does not survive the winter. If predators such as spiders don’t kill the new queens, and if they don’t emerge early due to a warm winter and starve due to lack of food, the young queens begin building nests and laying eggs in the spring.

2 responses

  1. Mary Carson

    Hi Mary, we are all huge fans and have been for 2 years. We know where our wasps live. Can we get rid of them once they are dormant so they don’t hatch or come back out in the spring? Best, Mary Carson

    Sent from my iPhone

    October 31, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    • Hi Mary,
      A lot depends on the kind of wasp — but in all hornet, yellowjacket, paper wasp, etc. colonies, everybody dies in the fall but the queen. Do you know where the queen is? If you could send me a picture of your wasp, that would be really helpful, but regardless of the species, it’s the queen you want to find and remove. (Most of those big, gray papery nests are bald-faced hornet nests and after some really cold weather they have no living hornets in them.
      Same for the paper wasp nests that usually are suspended by a stalk, with no paper envelope around them. And also true for aerial yellowjackets as well as yellowjackets that build a nest underground.)

      October 31, 2012 at 4:57 pm

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