Yellow jacket super nests appearing in Alabama |

Yellow jacket super nests appearing in Alabama

Frank Carnevale
Alabama Cooperative Extension System via AP
This 2017 photo provided by Alabama Cooperative Extension System shows a large yellow jacket nest in Perry County, Ala. Scientists are cautioning Alabama residents to be on the lookout for yellow jacket super nests. Researchers say milder winters combined with an abundant food supply allow some colonies to survive later in the year and grow to the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

Alabama researchers are finding huge — like really, really big — yellow jacket nests across the state.

Perennial yellow jacket nests are colonies that survive more than one year, have 15,000 insects (which is 3 to 4 times more than normal), and often have multiple queens.

The warmer winters and an abundant food supply are contributing to the longevity of the nests, according to researchers with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

The nests have been found in some odd places, including inside cars, walls and on the side of houses. Yellow jackets will build nests in wall voids, crawl spaces, attics and cracks, as well as in the ground.

“These perennial nests may be several feet wide and have many thousands of workers, far more than an average nest,” Charles Ray, an entomologist working with ACES, said. “We have found them attached to home exteriors and other places you might not expect to find yellow jackets.”

The occurrence of a large number of perennial nests happened in 2006 and Ray believes that this year could be the same.

Ray has confirmed four super nest in Alabama so far this year. According to him, there are usually one or two each year in June and July. In 2006, he recorded 90.

“I expect to approach that number this year,” Ray told The New York Times.

Researchers warn people to be careful around yellow jackets, as they are highly aggressive.

“First and foremost, do not disturb the nest,” Xing Ping Hu, an Alabama Extension entomologist, said. “While these giant nests often appear less aggressive than smaller colonies, it is important that people do not disturb the nests.”

Frank Carnevale is a Tribune-Review digital producer. You can contact Frank via Twitter .

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