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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - September 25, 2008

From: Hauppauge, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Pests
Title: Yellow jackets on non-native crape myrtles
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Hey Mr. Smarty Plants I have only 1 question. I have several Crape Myrtles that have numerous amounts (alarming) of yellow jacket bees on them. who what where when why etc? Should I be concerned? thanks for all your help.

ANSWER:

Mainly, this is because of the time of year. This information was extracted from an article from Clemson University Extension on Yellow Jackets. Be sure and read the whole article, as insecticides, baits and traps are all discussed.

"Yellow jackets (Vespula species, Vespa species and Dolichovespula species) are considered beneficial around home gardens and commercially grown fruits and vegetables at certain times of the year because they feed abundantly on insects such as caterpillars and harmful flies. Unfortunately, in late summer and early fall, the yellow jackets' normal insect diet disappears and their feeding habits become a problem to man. The diet of adult yellow jackets consists mainly of food rich in sugars and carbohydrates. Yellow jacket colonies do not normally survive the winter, and the first hard freeze will eliminate most colonies."

You may need to go ahead and get after some nests now, but since you are in New York, it shouldn't be too long until your first hard freeze.  But be very careful, yellow jackets do not take kindly to being exterminated!

 

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