TRUCKEE (CBS13) — From Truckee to Tahoe City, everyone’s buzzing about yellow jackets in the air. They’re aggressive, fast and much more active than they were last year.
“This is the first year I remember it being this bad,” said Mary Hatton, manager of PDQ Tahoma Market.
Many local visitors have complained about yellow jackets swarming around their homes and campsites. Angella Falco, Field Station Manager with Placer Mosquito and Vector Control, said she’s gotten more than 100 yellow jacket calls this year in the Tahoe area alone.
“Really, it’s a bad year, I mean everyone is closing their patio dining,” she said. “Yellow jackets will travel a quarter of a mile or further for food and water. And so that makes a search area very large.”
“For some reason, the drought knocked them down over the past three years and they are back in force this year,” said Joel Buettner, General Manager of Placer Mosquito and Control District.
He warns that the insects are aggressive and they don’t travel alone.
“If they feel very threatened, it’s not just one but it’ll be all of their buddies that are going to come and try to defend themselves,” Buettner said.
Many people mistake them for bees, but they have more yellow in their abdomens than bees have and they are much more territorial.
“The thing with yellow jackets is, unlike honeybees, they don’t lose their stinger,” Falco said. “They can sting multiple times. So it is a real public health hazard.”
Above all else, yellow jackets love what humans love on a summer vacation: protein and sugar. The best defense is to stay away from the insects and hang traps nearby. But over at PDQ Tahoma Market, Hatton said the traps don’t staying on the shelves for very long.
“And you feel bad because people come in here and they’re on their holiday and unfortunately aren’t very comfortable,” she said.
There’s no repellant that works on yellow jackets, so the best thing to do is keep the traps nearby. But Falco warms against trying to treat the nests yourselves. Instead, call Vector Control to come and take a look.