If you’ve lived in New Jersey for any length of time, you know this is true. When fall comes, wasps seem to be everywhere. They especially like buzzing around your house. Have you ever wondered why? Here is the skinny on wasps.

Why so many wasps in fall?

In spring, the few wasps you see flying around are queen wasps, who have emerged from their hibernation in search of a place to build a nest. So, that is why you don’t see many wasps in spring. The beginning of summer is quiet as well. The queen wasp is busy creating brood cells, and hatching larvae. These larvae, which are mostly infertile female worker drones, grow to adulthood, and take over the job of finding food for the other larvae. By the end of fall, though, the colony will reach its max of as much as 4000 to 5000 workers. This is when you’re going to see a lot of wasps floating around. Also, at this time, a new batch of males and fertilized females are produced. The fertilized females hatch and fly off to mate. So, when you see wasps flying around your house in great number, this is why. The queens are looking to overwinter in the siding, or “bark”, of your house. And all those males are looking to mate with them.

How do I protect myself from wasps in fall?

Knowing where the wasps live can help prevent stings. Queens typically build their nests in a nice shady spot. They prefer tree sockets, the roots of trees, house and garage eaves, rotten wood, and holes started by other insects or animals. These are the worst. If an animal has made a hole on the edge of your lawn, and yellow jackets build a nest in it, you’ll be in for some serious trouble next time you mow. Yellow jackets are protective of their hives, they swarm, and they can sting you several times. When they feel the vibration of your mower through the grown, it is like a call to arms. And if wasps have built a nest just inside the tree line, it could build to several hundred between mowings.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Most wasps, even hungry wasps, are not looking to sting you. They only sting when they feel threatened. And, many stings happen by accident. You could be sitting on your deck or patio, reading the morning paper, and put your hand right on a wasps, as you’re turning the page. There might be one sitting on the other side of your soda can. You reach out, grab it, and BOOM! You might lean forward in your chair to look at the kids playing in the yard, lean back, and set your back on a wasp that decided to crawl down the back of your chair. However it happens, it’s never fun.
  • Wasps love sweet things. In fall, you’ll want to make sure to not leave sugared drinks laying about on the porch, deck, or patio. This will draw wasps in.
  • Getting a professional to locate and remove nests in and around your home can significantly reduce your chances of being stung.
  • And make sure to check all your window and door screens. Wasps are notorious for seeking entry into homes during fall.

A little forethought, a watchful eye, and a dash of preparation, can make your fall sting-free, especially as you’re trying to get those last few precious hours of barbeque time in.

Happy grilling!