Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Yellowjacket Apocalypse

Remember the yellowjacket nest? Well, my mother-in-law was as good as her word. She killt them. She's pretty good at it. What you have to do is go out to the nest after dark. The yellowjackets are all but dormant after sunset and less likely to swarm and sting. So she went out with a small bottle of gasoline and poured some into the entrance to the nest. She didn't drench the ground or anything. Just poured a little in there.

She repeated the process for three days.

After the third day she went out and to check the nest for activity. What she found was that instead of a small entrance tunnel buzzing with yellowjackets she saw a large hole in the ground!

The yellowjackets were obviously dead. Where the nest had been there was now a deep hole. Something had come to the now-vacant nest and had dug it up for the grubs in the combs.

Typically, there are three animals who would do this. Yellowjacket grubs are pure fat and protein. Some mammals like them so much that they'll risk getting stung severely to feast on the grubs. The calorie reward outweighs the pain. Black bears have been known to travel through the forest digging them up and feasting on the nests.

But this hole, while decent, was certainly not made by a bear. So, the three local critters at the top of my list are: raccoons, skunks, and foxes.

Whatever dug that hole was really good at it. Raccoons can dig, but I've never seen one construct such an efficient excavation. Skunks are exceptional diggers, but Faye said she never smelled a skunk around, and they're hard to miss. So my guess is that the nest was dug up and consumed by a gray fox. There are lots of them around that part of the county. I've seen them, mainly in the evening.

No more yellowjacket nest. Faye killt the adults and this left the grubs vulnerable. Of course they'd have died anyway without the colony to feed and care for them. Or it's even possible the same gas fumes that killed the adults did in the grubs.

Must not have affected the flavor, though, because there was not one grub left.

Hole where the nest had been.
There were bits of yellowjacket nest scattered around.
You can see that the grubs were all gone...gobbled up.


Mark Gelbart said...

Do you have armadillos?

I must have seen 100 road-killed armadillos between Augusta and Rome, Georgia.

They will probably dig up yellow jacket nests.

Indians ate the grubs too.

James Robert Smith said...

Nope. We don't have them here, yet. I do know that they are making their way north as the climate warms up. But we just don't see them here in the Piedmont yet.

And, yes, they are amazing diggers.

Heck. If someone offered me grubs, I'd try them. I hear they're very rich and buttery.