[LEPS-L:7918] Re: Killer yellowjackets?

Kenelm Philip fnkwp at aurora.alaska.edu
Sun Nov 19 02:03:34 EST 2000

> How large can their nests get in the wild?

	This is a function of latitude. In northern climates, only the
queen survives the winter, and colonies start fresh every spring. In this
case the maximum number of individuals in a nest is seldom more than 5000,
and usually much less. _V. arenaria_, which builds aerial nests, usually
peaks at around 700 workers in a nest (at any one time).

	However, in warmer climates (Calofornia, Florida, New Zealand) the
colonies can be perennial, and can grow to very lareg sizes indeed. In
California there was a _V. vulgaris_ nest 4 feet long, and in Florida a
_V. squamosa_ nest 9 feet tall. The record is New Zealand, where a _V.
germanica_ nest was nearly 15 feet tall, and probably had several million
cells (and had an estimated weight of 1000 pounds). The adult workers must
have numbered in the tens of thousands at any one time.

	All this information comes from _The Yellowjackets of America North
of Mexico_, by Akre et. al., USDA 1981.

							Ken Philip
fnkwp at uaf.edu


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