ATLANTA — Georgia experts are warning about the danger of yellow jackets this summer after a "super nest" with up to a half-million of the aggressive wasps formed in Alabama.
Several massive nests found in Alabama this summer are the first discovered since 2006. One discovered this week is the largest that experts said they have ever seen.
Experts are now warning that the huge nests could form in Georgia, especially in the state's southern counties.
Petersen talked to James Murphy, a University of Georgia agricultural agent who specializes in yellow jackets and is investigating the nests in Alabama.
Though there are currently no known super nests in metro Atlanta, Murphy said if you spot two or three of the stinging insects in your yard, you could have a hole full of thousands of them nearby and not know it.
Yellow jackets are common in Georgia, and they are a particularly aggressive kind of wasp.
"Yellow jackets will defend the nest to the death, fighting tooth and nail," Murphy said. "And unlike bees, they can sting multiple times."
Pennyleigh Hayes found out the hard way when she was working around some flower pots in her yard.
"When I knocked one over, they came after me in swarms," Hayes said. "And what people don't know is, they keep coming back. They don't die."
Hayes had to call an ambulance after the attack.
Murphy can relate.
"I've stepped on a nest doing some yard work," Murphy said. "It's not a fun time."
Murphy said yellow jackets build nests in the ground. If you see a few in your yard, it's likely a few thousand are living in a hole in your pine straw, and they can attack as a team.
"If you happen to be unfortunate enough to crush one or bother one too much, they can call their buddies for backup," Murphy said.
Experts like Murphy said warm winters are to blame for the increase in yellow jackets. Cold temperatures usually kill off the queen -- and the rest of the wasps -- during the winter, but not this past winter.
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