Massive Yellow Jacket Nest Forms on Couple's Property - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

07/11/06

Massive Yellow Jacket Nest Forms on Couple's Property

Most of us have reached for the can of bug spray to put down wasps or bees around the house. But a Bulloch County couple has a bigger problem than that.

Rising up out of the water, it looks like another tree stump from a distance. But a closer look is enough to take your attention, and maybe your breath.

Hundreds of thousands of yellow jackets swarm in and around their nest on Shelley and Tony Roberts' pond. They can't believe it got so big so quick.

"I reckon it was a couple of months ago," said Shelley. "All it was was a little stump and we noticed what looked like mushrooms growing up."

It looks to be about six feet tall and three feet wide. No one's gotten close enough to measure.

"They're not aggressive," said Shelley. "We'll be out here fishing and they haven't bothered us."

Just about everything you read about yellow jackets says they burrow into the ground. No one around here's ever seen a nest on water, let alone a nest this tall.

When it started to grow, the Robertses wondered what the jackets were using for bricks and mortar. Then they noticed a change in their split rail fence.

"First of all, we thought the sun was bleaching our fence, but we noticed where the yellow jackets were landing," said Shelley. "They're eating the bark off the fence and they're building their nest with it."

They turn the wood to a pulp of sorts and build layer by layer, sometimes several inches in a week. While it may look like papier-mâché, Shelley says that's one piñata you don't want to strike.

Shelley and Tony plan to leave the nest alone until cooler weather when the insects calm down, then try to get rid of it. They do worry as big as it is and as many jackets are there, if they stung someone, it could be fatal.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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