SALISBURY — Rowan County is experiencing abnormal summer weather with hot days and scattered showers in the afternoon. Many people have called with questions and concerns about stinging insects. As the summer progresses into the fall, some stinging insects can present serious problems. Below are a few questions from Rowan County residents that may be of interest.
Q: I have yellow jacket nests in a couple of places in my lawn. What’s the best way to get rid of them?
A: It’s best to wait until early morning, just before or near sunrise; all the insects should be inside the nest and calm. Try to empty an entire aerosol can of wasp and hornet spray into the hole with one continuous stream. Place a brick or rock over the entrance hole and walk away. It’s best not to use gas or kerosene to control yellow jackets and burn out the pest. Environmental issues as well as your safety are at risk. Go to http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/dept/ent/notes/Urban/horn-yj.htm for more detailed information on the life history and control this insect.
Q: I have these huge hornets, almost the size of a hummingbird buzzing around my lawn. What are these insects and how do I control them?
A: You probably speak about cicada-killers. These are large, slow-flying wasps that do not aggressively sting like yellow jackets, hornets or wasps. These are predacious insects that feed almost exclusively on cicadas. Researchers have shown that in a typical season, female cicada-killers can eliminate more than 160 cicadas from the surrounding area. The wasps have a short life span so, at most, they will only be a pest about two months out of the year. Go to http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/lawn/note63/note63.html for more information on life history and control of this insect.
Q: I found this really large red ant in my back yard yesterday. It was bright red and very hairy. I’m afraid it may sting my grandkids. Is this a fire ant and what should I do?
A: The ant is actually from a family of wasps that look like large furry ants. Velvet ants are venomous insects. These wingless wasps generally have a docile disposition, but will inflict a painful sting if mishandled.
When disturbed, they produce a loud, high pitched squeaking sound. Velvet ants are predacious insects feeding on other bees and wasps, including cicada killers. Go to http://ipm.ncsu.edu/current_ipm/03PestNews/03News17/resident.html for more information on life history and control of this insect.
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. 704-216-8970 www.rowanmastergardener.com, rowan.ces.ncsu.edu, www.rowanextension.com