There she is in all her glory: a queen rising from her winter bed ready to begin a new life, a new colony. She is strong, hungry, and looking for real estate in which to build her nest – probably under your porch, your patio, or in the rock walls of the raised garden.
Yellow jackets are beginning their year, and to save the village from bullies, the queen must die. In winter, only wasp queens survive, emerging when the weather warms in spring to begin colonization of our yards. She wakes up eager to feed and alone; by trapping her, you will prevent hundreds of her offspring from harassing your family in fall.
Put out your wasp traps now, filled with heptyl butyrate, or design your own with chunks of cantaloupe – all it takes is a 2-liter sized pop bottle. Cut the top off the bottle at the shoulders, turn it around and slide it into to the lower part of the bottle so the neck points inwards, and staple this together. Fill with a small amount of cantaloupe, and hang it away from your house.
Some wasps prefer protein, so make another trap and put a bit of lunch meat in it.
Another wasp that’s becoming active is the European Paper Wasp, Polistes dominulus. This builds open-faced nests up in the eaves, inside sheds, and in other spots located above ground. They aren’t aggressive, unless you get too close to the nest – then they may sting. Paper wasps look a lot like yellow jackets but aren’t attracted to traps at all. They’re predators, hunting the yard for soft-bodied insects. They, too, start the spring with a single queen per colony, so if they bother you, swat them.