Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - I love that title, mostly because I have felt many painful stings of wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets over the years, so if there’s anything I can do to avoid those stingers I will gladly give it a try.

I spoke with Dr. Peter Kolb with MSU Extension and the UM Forestry Department this week about yet another subject in which he has a vast amount of knowledge, that being bees, wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets.

Dr. Kolb first pointed out how vital and beneficial bees are to all of us.

Dr. Peter Kolb on Bees, Hornets, Wasps and Yellowjackets

“Bees are hairy-bodied, usually yellow and black in color, but they have fuzzy hair all over them,” began Dr. Kolb. “There are about 450 species of bees in the United States, and Montana actually has 28 (different) species of bumblebees, the most bumblebees of any state, and they're still discovering new ones all the time.”

The more dangerous yellowjackets and wasps are the ones we need to look out for and avoid, if possible.

Yellowjackets will go for your Burger at the Picnic or Barbecue

“We have the Western yellowjacket, and the German yellowjacket, and they are the most common ones we see,” he said. “Those are the ones that we get in trouble with because as scavengers they're after our hamburgers and our food and our sugary drinks or whatever we happen to be eating outside. They're also the ones that build their nests in rotten stumps underground for the Western yellow jacket, or in the eaves of our homes or inside garden toys and swing sets.”

The one point Dr. Kolb wanted to make is the importance of setting out your yellowjacket traps now, instead of when summer actually arrives.

“The trick with those is to trap the queen's that of that family,” he said. “The only individuals that overwinter are the queen and this time of year as soon as you start seeing bugs on the windshield of your car, the queens emerge, so now is actually the most effective time to trap the wasps that we don't want by putting your wasp trap out.”

Dr. Kolb said it’s a matter of sheer numbers to put the wasp traps out sooner rather than later.

READ MORE: Montana Forestry Specialist's Biggest Fear for Summer 2024

Put Your Yellowjacket Traps out Now and Capture the Queens

“If you put your traps out now you'll trap the queens,” he said. “Around my house, I typically trap between 50 and 100 queens this time of year, and then I have peace and quiet all summer long because it's the queens that create the colonies and a single colony can have up to 1,000 workers in it. So, if we trap in the summer, all we do is trap the worker bees and there are thousands of them, so it's really like sweeping back the tide. Whereas if you trap the queens now, they won't build nests and you won't have prolific populations of these unwanted yellow jackets that can compete with us for our burgers.”

Dr. Kolb did mention that many of the hornet species are predators, in that they attack and kill the yellowjackets, so if a hornet’s nest is nearby, you might want to leave it alone, as it could help rid your yard of yellowjackets.

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Gallery Credit: Derek Wolf

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