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Wasp Populations Low This Summer, But Don't Celebrate Yet

Normally by late June, wasps are a common nuisance at summer barbecues. But this year, entomologists have noticed a drop-off in Washington state and wasp populations are lower than usual.

A cold and wet spring meant the insects had a hard time building nests and finding food.

But don’t celebrate just yet. Peter Landolt, an entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture warns that this situation is getting better for wasps.

“This year we’re off to a low start, but now that the weather is really hot and dry that could change dramatically,” Landolt said.

In the Yakima Valley, the most common wasp varieties are yellow jackets and paper wasps. Yellow jackets are more aggressive and can have nests as large as a basketball with several thousand swarming insects.

Landolt said that if you encounter a nest and it’s small with easy access, regular pesticides from the store can help. If the nest is large and in a tricky place, then you may need the experts.

And if you can’t tell the difference between a paper wasp and a yellow jacket, then don’t take the gamble.