Yellowjackets could be invading thanks to warm winter

Insect experts are saying that this may be the year of the yellowjacket for Alabama.

A mild winter and lots of food could have allowed colonies to survive into the spring in larger sizes compared to a normal winter season, entomologist Charles Ray with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System told WHNT.

Ray also says that the cues queens get to leave their colonies may not happen this year, so as the massive colonies grow, they get multiple queens.

Ray expects this year to mimic 2006 since two perennial nests were already found in May and a third may be forming. The first massive nest was found on June 13 in 2006 by comparison.

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"If we are seeing them a month sooner than we did in 2006, I am very concerned that there will be a large number of them in the state. The nests I have seen this year already have more than 10,000 workers and are expanding rapidly," Ray told WHNT.

In 2006, there were more than 90 massive yellow jacket nests, The Ledger-Enquirer reported.

Ray said he had one small perennial colony that had 15,000 yellowjackets. And he heard of reports of a South Carolina nest that had a quarter million yellowjackets in it in 2006, the newspaper reported.

What should you do if you come across a perennial nest that is buzzing with activity? First, let it alone.

"While these giant nests often appear less aggressive than smaller colonies, it is important that people do not disturb the nests," Ray told

Then, Ray said, call in the experts to remove the nest.