At this time of year, many of us in the Midwest are soaking up the sun and enjoying the few nice days we have left. Football games, homecoming parades, visiting pumpkin farms and harvest festivals are a few ways we continue to enjoy the outdoors. Unfortunately, at this time of year we also have to deal with those annoying stinging insects...wasps. They’re everywhere.
So why are these insects also known as yellow jackets so active and annoying at this time of year? During the spring and summer months, their hives and nests are very active. While the queen is laying eggs, the workers are busy preying on insects like caterpillars, flies, and crickets, along with other duties. Moving from summer to fall, however, causes a change in the nest. The queen stops laying eggs and the nests begin to deteriorate. As a result, they become more interested in human food like sugar and carbohydrates. Our human food helps them sustain what’s left of their lives, as well as prepare the queen for winter survival.
Here are five tips to help prevent you and your family from being stung by these sugar-crazed insects.
Avoid open aluminum cans or bottles. If you’re tailgating, having a cookout, or enjoying a local festival, consider pouring your beverage(s) into a cup. If a wasp or another insect lands in your beverage, you’ll will see it before taking a drink.
Keep your food out of sight. Once the food is out, these uninvited guests will arrive at your party in full force. Consider keeping the food inside or don’t keep it out very long. If you do decide to keep food out, keep it covered or turn on a fan near the food. The breeze from the fan can make it difficult for them to fly.
Create a special picnic area for your uninvited guests. Consider setting up a small food table just for them away from your food. This could include sugar water or fruit scraps.
Use a garbage can with a lid. Have you ever seen an open garbage can swarming with insects? It makes you want to toss your garbage and run! If you use a garbage can with a lid, you can reduce the number of swarming insects. Be sure the garbage can is placed far enough away from you and your guests.
Remain calm. When these sugar-crazed guests arrive, our initial reaction is to aggressively swat at them. This will make them angry and more aggressive. Gently swat them away or move your plate to get them to fly away on their own.
If you have any tips you would like to share, I’d love to hear them. Please share them in the box below.