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Yellow jackets make mark on basin

They’re yellow. They’re annoying. They sting. And they’re invading Lake Tahoe in full force.

As the busy tourist season dies down and populations of visitors diminish, the population of yellow jackets is rising. September is always the busiest month for yellow jackets at Tahoe.

“Typically around this time of year we have a large population of yellow jackets. This is the time of year when there’s the most activity,” said Ginger Huber, Vector Control Manager for the county. “It’s their life cycle. Their populations grow until August and September.”



Huber said yellow jackets now are hunting for protein, and that is why they can be seen around such places as restaurants and barbecues. Soon they will be looking for sugar to prepare for winter. Then they may be bothering children drinking Kool Aid or soda.

Rick Sarkisian, co-owner of The Deck and Cafe, said the insects have been bothering the outdoor-dining patrons of his restaurant.




“We just noticed they’re significantly showing up now,” he said. “There’s been no injuries. It’s just an annoyance to the guests.”

The best way to control foraging yellow jackets is sanitation, according to Huber. Tightly covering all food sources and moving garbage cans away from eating areas reduces the amount of food available to yellow jackets.

Additionally, eliminating standing water sources, such as puddles, helps reduce the water available for yellow jackets to drink and to cool their nests.

El Dorado County does not recommend homeowners try to eliminate a yellow jacket nest themselves. The county’s vector control program can eliminate property owners’s yellow jacket problems if homeowners have located the nests.

Pest-control agencies can attempt to do it otherwise.

“This time of year, every year, is when (yellow jacket) calls increase,” said Michelle Levell, office manager of Lake Tahoe Termite and Pest Control.

Levell said the company’s workers can apply pesticides to nests they find. If a nest is inside a wall, they can drill a hole and spray near the area. If no nest is found – if it’s underground, for example – exterminators can put out tainted bait which the insects can take back to the nest.

Many of the yellow jackets will start dying naturally in October.

In the meantime …

“They’re not paying for anything,” said The Deck and Cafe’s Sarkisian. “They’re freeloading.”

El Dorado County Vector Control can be reached at (530) 573-3197.


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