Life Cycle of Yellow Jackets
Yellow jackets are social beings much like us humans. They prefer to create colonies and families for their existence. The colonies of yellow jackets consist of workers, queens, and males. These colony members take an active part in the building and functioning of the nests. Once the males and queens have engaged in the breeding process, the fertilized queens retire into safe and warm spots in order to avoid the harsh winter. Queens participate in the activity of overwintering as yellow jackets, prefer sunny weathers rather than snowy winters.
After the winter season passes, the queens emerge from their hiding spots during the early days of summer or spring and look for a suitable nesting site to lay the eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the queen mother feeds her young larvae for a period of about 18 to 20 days. This process continues until she breathes her last in autumn and by that time the colony expands rapidly with around 4,000 to 5,000 yellow jacket wasps. Imagine what the number would have been number if the queens lived longer!
Purpose of Yellow Jackets in Ecosystem
You might have a negative perspective on all kinds of bugs and insects. However, you must agree that yellow jackets are one of the contributors to the well-being of our environment. They feed on nectar and small fruit-bearing flowers and are essential pollinators. Yellow jackets carry the pollen seeds from one plant to another, thereby fertilizing the plants in the process. They also feed on soft-bodied insects found on these flowers. This keeps them at bay from destroying the fruits and causing any harm to the plants. This makes them a desirable necessity for farmers, florists, and gardeners who require natural pollination.
Yellow jackets also act as exterminators to the bugs which inhabit our homes. Also, yellow jackets form an essential part of the food chain. Black bears consider these insects as one of their favorite means of prey. Small mammals such as badgers, moles, mongooses and such species also consume these insects and enjoy a hearty meal!
Yellow Jacket Facts
- Despite gathering an infamous reputation, the Yellow Jacket has been selected as the mascot of Georgia Institute of Technology. They are one of the most reputed universities in the United States of America.
- During summers, as they are building their nests, the diet is mostly carnivorous for yellow jackets. They require a necessary amount of protein to pass on to the larvae thus reducing the incidence of annoying garden pests such caterpillars and the like.
- Yellow jackets are easily irritated even without any interference. There have been several reports which suggest that even the noises generated from lawn mowers or lumbering equipment have caused them to break out stinging.
- The peak of summers sees an increased inclination of these insects towards sugary elements such as flower nectar, sugary substances or even substances which are consumed by humans such as fruits and berries which are disposed of in the garbage.
- Finally, the most interesting fact about these insects is that male and worker yellow jackets die over the winter. Only females live through this season.
Yellow jackets are quite the insect. If you are scared of these guys, you have good reason too, but just try not to interfere with them and you should be OK.