Most people assume that yellow jackets consist of only one insect species, but there are actually several yellow jacket species distributed all over the United States. Venomous insects are not commonly associated with the state of Maine since it is easy for people to assume that the relatively short summer in the state does not allow the insects to thrive. But as it happens, most yellow jacket species in the US dwell within Maine where they are commonly found nesting within residential areas in the state. These yellow jacket species include southern yellow jackets, German yellow jackets, and eastern yellow jackets, just to name a few.
The southern yellow jacket is one of the most aggressive and territorial of all yellow jacket species. Simply walking near a nest may prompt the insects to swarm and inflict numerous and repeated stings on humans. These insects nest in or near the ground in a variety of locations, including residential lawns, making it easy for people to unknowingly disturb a colony by walking over a nesting area. If a person should step over a nest, there is a good chance that the nearest yellow jackets will send out alarm pheromones that alert the rest of the colony of the perceived threat, which results in the insects rapidly vacating their nest in order to mercilessly attack the poor soul nearby.
The German yellow jacket is also aggressive, but unlike their southern counterparts, this species often nests within voids in homes and buildings. These yellow jackets may be the most commonly encountered yellow jackets in suburban and urban areas of Maine. German yellow jacket colonies grow to consist of thousands of individual specimens by late summer and early fall in Maine, and they are known for pursuing humans over long distances.
The eastern yellow jacket dwells within subterranean nests that are often located in recreational and highly populated areas, making attacks on humans a common occurrence. Much like other yellow jacket species, eastern yellow jackets will aggressively defend their nests from the slightest threat, but unlike other species, their colonies can grow to consist of hundreds of thousands of specimens. If you should located a yellow jacket nest on your property, contacting a pest control professional is highly recommended, and doing so can potentially save lives or prevent serious injury.
Have you ever spotted a ground dwelling yellow jacket colony?