Large Summer Wasps & Monthly Master Gardener Education Meeting

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This time of year there are a couple of large wasps that you may see active in your garden or coming to outside lights at night.

The cicada killer wasp nests in soil and often folks become concerned when they see these wasps in large groups hovering around an area. These are the male wasps staging and competing to mate with emerging females. In spite of their imposing size and seemingly aggressive behavior, male cicada killers lack stingers and are harmless. The female wasps dig their nests in loose soil. Although female wasps have stingers, they are not aggressive towards people. Stings are rare and usually the result of accidental encounters. They sting their prey, mostly cicadas, to immobilize them so they can carry them into the nest as food for their larvae. I had these in my vegetable garden one year and the wasps were too busy digging nests & bringing their prey into the nest to bother me.

The Giant European Hornet is an introduced species and is like a large aggressive yellow jacket. These insects usually nest in a hollow cavity or wall void. Giant European hornet colonies can contain 300 – 1000 workers by the end of the season. These workers are unique among the yellowjackets for their ability to forage at night. It is not unusual to see these workers congregating at external lights or house windowpanes during summer nights. Although the workers will sting if handled, they are not normally aggressive unless the colony is threatened. These hornets will also damage various trees and shrubs by stripping bark and girdling the branches and twigs for nest building and to obtain nourishment from the sap.

In most instances, neither of these wasps needs to be managed. If you have a special circumstance and believe you may need to manage them, give me a call at 704-283-3729 for recommendations.

Join the UCEMGV for their monthly educational meeting, Thursday, July 18, at 7 p.m. at the UC Agriculture Center. Erica Niland, Associate Professor of Biology at Wingate University, will be talking insects.