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Yellow Jackets Swarming the Middle School

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Yellow jackets have been swarming around many of the trash cans, lured by the foods and drinks around the cans. Students have been stung, and some have allergies to these insects, which are blocking the way to dispose of trash.

“I can’t throw away my trash anymore because I am scared of getting stung by them. Also, I have to either throw my trash away quickly, or I need to go inside to get rid of it,” said eighth grader Thomas E. 

Some trash cans have been taken away because they were infested with yellow jackets.

Some students have even tried to take the matter into their own hands by fighting the yellow jackets with sweatshirts and basketballs. However, they have only made the problem worse by making the yellow jackets mad and causing them to fight back.

Picture by Cavan T.
Yellow Jackets crawl on the trash cans that are covered in sugar from spilled drinks.

Facilities Services is the department that takes care of the grounds on campus. They are trying their best to eliminate the yellow jackets from the trash cans. Grounds Supervisor Shon Cameron describes the plan to get rid of this problem.

“The situation is that when we are getting rid of the yellow jackets, there is no nest, so it is harder to get rid of them. The sugar is making them come, and it is spilling on the pavement. We are setting out traps, but the traps don’t work when the food is available on the ground. We also change the cans out at 6 a.m., and we sometimes remove the cans with a lot of them at 1 p.m.,” said Mr. Cameron.

According to Mr. Cameron, the yellow jacket is part of the wasp family which has a smooth stinger so they can sting multiple times and not die, unlike regular bees which have a barbed stinger, sting once and then die.

“When everybody is running and swatting at the yellow jackets, they get aggravated and can sting you many times. However, if you move slow, then they will not be irritated and won’t sting you,” said Mr. Cameron. However, if are water and food is thrown at them, then they will be disturbed and could sting multiple times.

“It makes it hard on everybody, and people are worried about getting stung. It’s hard on the workers, too. The grounds workers are doing extra trash runs, so it puts strain on many different people. Everybody is suffering. I spent 30-40 mins spraying off the patio near Malone dining hall yesterday,” said Mr. Cameron.

These bugs are creating a hazard for everybody on campus because it is hard to get away from them. The grounds staff is working as hard as they can to get rid of the infestation, but they need as much help as they can get from the student body to not throw their sugary drinks and food on the ground for the yellow jackets to swarm around.

Picture by Cavan T.
Yellow Jackets are attracted to food and drinks spilled around trash cans.

“They live here, and we have problems with other animals. So it’s part of having a lot of nature around us. When we dig up the nests in the woods, they are almost as big as a football and almost half a foot deep in the ground. If we weren’t surrounded by nature, they wouldn’t be here,” said Mr. Cameron.

The yellow jackets can’t totally be gone because they live on campus. However, it is possible to make them leave the trash cans alone by not spilling food and drink on or near the outdoor trash cans and by not annoying the yellow jackets.

According to the Grounds Supervisor, everyone needs to contribute to help get the bees away from the trash cans. Throw away food and drinks inside. Limit the use of the outside trash cans. Finally, leave the yellow jackets alone.

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Yellow Jackets Swarming the Middle School