There has been a lot of buzz about wasps not seeeming nearly as bad this year. So we asked Dr. David Beresford, a professor in Biology at Trent University and expert on insects, what's up with that. Here's what he has to say...
"At this time of year, wasps or yellow jackets get a lot of their food from fallen crabapples, drinking the sweet juice from the rotting apples on the ground. Last year the apple crop was killed off by frost, and there was not as much fruit around for them in the fall. In my opinion, I think what happened last year was that the yellow jackets were attracted to our outside picnics and garbage pails because there were fewer sources of food. This year, with a bumper crop of crab apples in the city, there is a lot of sugary food to attract the yellow jackets away from us when we are outside.
Yellow jackets do not overwinter as colonies, and almost all of the yellow jackets flying around now are going to die when the cold weather comes. The new queens will mate before overwintering, hiding in a sheltered spot or dried leaves, in wall or attic insulation, or under porches and in tools sheds. They will then emerge in the spring during the warm weather to start a new colony. Because the nest is made of paper, they do not reuse the same nest, but they will come back to the same spot if it is a good one. Every year, some queens start nests under what looks like a good sheltered spot such as a canoe, boat, or wheelbarrow, but these sometimes get too hot in summer and it kills them. From year to year, the number changes due to how cold the winter was, if there was a mid-winter thaw which tricks them into coming out of hibernation too early, or a late spring frost that kills them. But because the area is so different, what might kill them in one part of the city or countryside might be perfect weather for them in another part, so whether we get good years or bad years for wasps depend on the local weather where we are."
So there you have it. That takes the sting out of things further.