Georgia is home to a number of arachnid and insect pests that can deal out painful, and in some cases, dangerous stings and bites. Wasps are one of the most dangerous groups of insects in the world, and several species reside in Georgia. Yellow jackets and hornets are actually wasps, and Georgia is home to three yellow jacket species that are commonly encountered outdoors, and sometimes, indoors. These species are commonly known as the southern yellow jacket, the eastern yellow jacket, and despite its common name, the baldfaced hornet. The baldfaced hornet gets its name from it black body and white face, and the “hornet” name comes from this species’ large size and habit of establishing aerial nests. Everyone knows that yellow jackets are aggressive insects that will not hesitate to inflict repeated stings to humans. However, Georgia officials are warning residents about the dangers posed by these insects after an enormous yellow jacket nest was discovered next door in Alabama.
This year has seen the discovery of several yellow jacket “super-nests” in Alabama. These nests, which are often taller than an average sized adult, once contained half a million individual wasps. One particular nest found this week in Alabama is the largest that any experts in the state have ever seen. This discovery is troubling public health officials in Georgia who claim that these large nests in Alabama indicate that Georgia could see an uptick in yellow jacket envenomations. Officials in Georgia are also predicting that similarly sized nests will soon be discovered in the southern region of the state. James Murphy, A University of Georgia agricultural agent who specializes in yellow jackets has been examining the nests found in Alabama. According to Murphy, there are no known yellow jacket nests of this size in Atlanta, but if a resident notices two or three of the insects in his/her yard, then a massive underground nest may be nearby. Murphy also claimed that the previous warm winter is to blame for increased yellow jacket populations in the southeast.
Have you ever stumbled upon wasp nest?