Every year about this time I get really leery about wandering around our farm.
In late summer, as fall approaches, the yellow jackets (Vespula spp, YJs)
increase their activity, and seem to get angrier and meaner. Most years I try to
stay indoors as much as possible to avoid getting in their way. They make
outdoor suppers quite an adventure, as we try to eat while shooing the unwanted
guests away and hoping they don’t turn on us with their stingers.
Before we moved to our previous farm and started raising chickens, I had never
really thought much about yellow jackets vs. wasps or other bee-like creatures.
However in the summer of 2001, we had our first encounter with a YJ nest.
Friends were visiting and they had gone with Rich for a walk in our forest when
they unwittingly walked over a nest. I heard them yelling and laughing as they
ran for the house… if I remember right, they all were stung at least once.
That was the first nest we found at that farm, but not the last. We quickly
learned to watch our step in the pasture while tending to our pastured poultry
flocks, so as not to step into a nest – the only evidence of presence was usually