Keeping a Vigilant Eye Against Emerging Yellowjackets in the Spring

We’re officially in the middle of April, which means that yellow jacket season is just around the corner. For many, the sight of a yellowjacket causes feelings of fear, dread, and annoyance. With their painful stings and aggressive temperament, it’s no wonder that most are not fond of the insect. However, for the select few that are allergic to bee stings, the sight of yellowjackets is a potentially dangerous and lethal occurrence that is only exacerbated by how prolific the species is during the summer. With it still being early, now is the time to be vigilant of any signs of forming yellowjacket nests. By knowing their behaviors and nesting tendencies, you can put a stop to any new nests before they become big enough to necessitate pest control.

The term yellowjacket actually refers to a number of different species of wasps. The ground-nesting western yellowjacket is included in this grouping and is the most commonly encountered species. The western yellowjacket accounts for the overwhelming majority of stinging incidents recorded, and are the most noxious species. Yellowjackets are sometimes mistaken for “bees” due to similar size and appearance. However, yellow jackets are a type of wasp. Unlike bees, yellowjackets do not have furry bodies or carry pollen. They are identifiable by their distinctive markings, thin “waists,” and their side-to-side flight pattern.

Yellowjackets begin making their nests in spring when a single queen who overwinters becomes active due to the warming weather. Once she emerges in late winter/earl spring, she will start her mission of feeding and starting a new nest. The nest grows considerably between spring and summer, and workers will seek out other insects to feed the increasing number of larvae. By late summer, the colony will have grown quite large. Yellowjacket colonies usually only live out for one summer. After, the new queens abandon the nest to start new colonies, and the remaining yellowjackets die at the end of the summer. They do not reuse the same nest next year.

Yellowjackets build both paper and ground nests. Aerial-nesting yellowjackets will usually build their paper nests attached to the eaves of a building or hanging off of the limb of a tree. However, yellowjackets will also build their nests anywhere that is generally undisturbed such as between walls and within ceilings. Yellowjackets build their paper nests out of paper they make from wood bits mixed with saliva. Fully built, it resembles multiple tiers of vertical cells with a single entrance hole usually at the bottom of the nest. Ground-nesting yellowjackets usually utilize rodent burrows for their nests. If the nest grows too big for the hole, yellowjackets will increase the size by burrowing.

Yellowjackets are incredibly aggressive and will vehemently defend their nests. Though all wasps will defend their nests, yellowjackets do so with the most fervor. When disturbed, they will bite and sting simultaneously and repeatedly. Because wasp stingers do not have barbs, yellowjackets can continue to sting the subject a considerable number of times. This can be exacerbated by the sheer number of yellowjackets that can inhabit a single nest, with populations reaching between 1,500 and 15,000, depending on species. Their defensive behavior only gets more rambunctious throughout the continuation of summer as the colony populations become larger and food becomes scarcer. Yellowjackets can be killed with general pesticides, but due to their aggressive nature and sheer numbers, calling pest control might be necessary for removing a particularly large nest, especially if it has made its way into your home.

So, if you happen to see a yellowjacket starting to build her nest within the next few weeks, address it right away. Killing the nest now with pesticides will eliminate the need for pest control to remove a nasty, huge nest once summer arrives. Staying vigilant will help keep yellowjackets at bay and protect you from getting stung. However, if you do find yourself needing pest control to remove a wasp nest later in the season, then call Antworks. We not only provide our services in Vancouver, but also provide pest control in Tacoma, WA.

Differentiating Between Wild and Domesticated Rats

One of the many services provided here at Antworks is rodent control. Small and tenacious, wild rats can wreak havoc on your home, destroying your house interior and leaving droppings. To those that are unfamiliar with rats, there may seem to be little difference between the wild rats we provide rodent control services for, and the domestic (fancy) rats that people buy in pet stores. The inability to distinguish between the two types can sometimes lead to ambivalent attitudes toward the animal and how to approach a rodent infestation. Those who are rat enthusiasts might feel a sense of fondness toward a wild rat they find in the home and start perceiving it as a “pet.” However, domestic rats greatly vary from their wild counterparts much in the same way that domestic dogs differ from wild dogs you would find in the savannahs. Though the two may appear the same due to visual similarities, there are distinct behavioral differences between a wild rat and fancy rat that vastly differentiate the two. Understanding how the two differ not only helps to delineate wild rats from fancy rats, but also clarifies why a wild rat cannot be perceived or dealt with like a domesticated rat and necessitates rodent control services.

Social Nature
Unlike fancy rats, wild rats are not naturally sociable with humans. Wild rats may take scraps that are offered or dropped, but any attempts by a human to establish contact will be perceived as a threat and the rat will flee. Fancy rats are more docile and receptive to human affection. Though fancy rats can become feralized if left out in the wild for a long time, they are more likely to come toward you versus immediate scampering off.

In general, a wild rat will either be a varied shade of brown with a lighter brown underbelly, or solid black with a white underbelly. Fancy rats come in a much broader variety of colors: white, cinnamon, peach, tan, brown, black, and greys. Just like you would see far more colors represented in domestic cats than you would in wild cats, fancy rats are far more colorful than their wild counterparts.

A wild rat will puff up its fur in your presence, seeing you as a threat. On the other hand, you will rarely see a fancy rat with its fur standing on end. The only exceptions to this are if the fancy rat happens to have wavy fur, is scared, or is cold.

Size & Shape
Wild rats are streamlined for survival, which means they tend to look more sleek and lean. Because wild rats also have a much shorter life span, they rarely reach their maximum size of about twelve inches. Because of this fact, wild rats generally appear to be smaller than fancy rats. On the other hand, fancy rats tend to be somewhat on the pudgy side, and you will often see rolls and contours. It is also more common to see fancy rats reach the maximum twelve inches in length.

Posture and Stance
Wild rats are always on the move. Unless the wild rat is ill, you will likely see them standing on all fours, back partially arched, as if to leap forward. Fancy rats, however, rarely stand on all fours. Even when nervous, fancy rats are more likely to be seen sniffing around rather than prepping to pounce.

So though they may appear similar, major differences in behavior and temperament vastly differentiate wild rats from fancy rats. Because they are more fearful and much less friendly, a wild rat cannot be treated the same way you would a fancy rat. Just as fancy rats are not adapted to live in the wild, wild rats are not adaptive to becoming pets. Wild rats will become extremely stressed when forced into confined spaces and often experience lower lifespans as a result. Even wild rats that are raised from birth by humans lack the domesticated qualities that would make them good pets. So if you see a wild rat in your home, don’t hesitate to call rodent control. Though they may look like the cute fancy rats you see in stores, a wild rat infestation cannot be treated as harmless and left to idle. If you have a rat infestation in your home, call Antworks to provide rodent control in Vancouver, WA.