MANHATTAN, Kan. — Yellow jacket wasps are increasing in numbers as they scavenge for food this fall until cold weather arrives. Kansas State University horticulture expert Ward Upham encourages those outdoors to be careful as wasps can sting if agitated.
“Yellow jacket wasps are three-fourths of an inch long and closely resemble bees from a distance,” Upham said. “Bees have more hair and are duller in color.”
Wasps look for food near compost piles rather than flowers, and especially sugary liquids such as soda.
If a nest is found, it is best to avoid the area as wasps can be more aggressive near the nest, Upham said.
While they are known for unfriendly behavior, wasps are beneficial to their environment, feeding on soft body insects like caterpillars and sawfly larvae. Upham encourages not destroying nests unless they present a danger to people.
“Rather, concentrate on removing food sources near areas you frequent,” he said.
Upham and his colleagues in K-State’s Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources produce a weekly Horticulture Newsletter with tips for maintaining home landscapes and gardens. The newsletter is available to view online or can be delivered by email each week.
— Maddy Rohr, K-State Research and Extension news service