Yellow jacket problems on the rise at Lake Tahoe
September 3, 2013
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Officials at Lake Tahoe have been responding to an uptick in reports of problems with pesky yellow jackets.
Karen Bender of the El Dorado County Department of Environmental Health says people there have been receiving about 10 calls a day after fielding 16 in a single day last Monday.
Bender said a mild winter allowed more of the queens to survive into the spring and build the nests that can house as many as 5,000 worker yellow jackets in the summer and fall.
El Dorado County residents pay a $6 fee for vector control as part of their property taxes, so Bender recommends they take advantage of the extermination service provided by environmental health specialists who apply a pesticide that comes in a white powder and is not sold to the public.
"One reason we want vector control to go out is because we don't want to kill honeybees," Bender told the Lake Tahoe News. She said honeybees are the "good" bees needed to pollinate plants.
Yellow jackets, considered pests, are part of the wasp family. They make nests in the ground, under decks, in walls, under eaves and in trees.
Warren Withers, director of Barton Memorial Hospital's emergency department, didn't have specific numbers but said he has noticed more people coming in with stings this year compared to last year.
"When we do see the stings they can cause a variety of reactions — from minor irritation to more serious allergic reactions," Withers told Lake Tahoe News. "They do tend to be more numerous and more aggressive in September-October, especially as the weather cools, until the first hard freeze."
Barton Urgent Care and Family Practice has also had an uptick in sting cases recently, but so far their numbers have not surpassed 2012 figures.
Holly Holwager, a harvest inspector with the U.S. Forest Service's Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said they've encountered a typical amount of bees but "they seem less aggressive than last field season."