Wasps are taking over Alabama with ‘super nests’ that can hold 15,000 yellow jackets

  • Charles Ray, an entomologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, is warning that wasp “super nests” are appearing at an unusual rate in Alabama this year.
  • Ray said that in a normal year, he sees zero to two super nests. This year, he’s seen two in person, and photos of at least 10 more.
  • This isn’t the first time super nests have infiltrated Alabama – in 2006, a colony of 15,000 yellow jackets with a nest the size of a Volkswagen Beetle was among 90 perennial nests found in the state.
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Thousands of wasps are taking over Alabama with horrifyingly large “super nests” that can be as big as a car.

Charles Ray, an entomologist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, is warning residents to be on the lookout for “super nests” that can appear suddenly, according to NPR.

The nests, which can house up to 15,000 yellow jackets, are popping up across Alabama.

Ray said that in a normal year, he sees zero to two super nests. This year, he’s seen two in person, and photos of at least 10 more by mid-May, NPR reported.

“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 said in a warning published in June with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

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This isn’t the first time super nests have infiltrated Alabama – in 2006, a colony of 15,000 yellow jackets with a nest the size of a Volkswagen Beetle was among the 90 perennial nests found in the state.

“These perennial nests may be several feet wide and have many thousands of workers, far more than an average nest,” Ray said in his warning. “We have found them attached to home exteriors and other places you might not expect to find yellow jackets.”

Nests can be found on the sides of houses, on cars, and on discarded items like mattresses, according to CNN.

A normal yellow jacket nest houses up to 5,000 workers. All but the queen usually die when winter hits, and in the spring, the queen forms a new colony.

The perennial nests could be caused by milder winters and an abundant food supply for the wasps, CNN reported. This would allow wasps to start spring with larger numbers, and for nests to have more than one queen.

“The queens are the only ones who have an antifreeze compound in their blood,” Ray told The New York Times. “So normally, a surviving queen will have to start a colony from scratch in the spring. With our climate becoming warmer, there might be multiple surviving queens producing more than 20,000 eggs each.”

Ray warned people not to approach nests if they find them on their property. He said they should only be removed by professional pest control operators.