Now *That’s* a Nest!
Florida has no shortage of record-setting insects. This week, an enormous yellow jacket nest captured attention, as a brave UF/IFAS entomology alumnus put himself in harm’s way to eliminate the threat.
Jonathan Simkins of the pest control firm Insect IQ arranged to have a video camera record his movements as he assessed and treated the nest, which stood more than six feet tall and may have contained more than one million yellow jackets.
Given the size of the nest, and the yellow jacket’s well-earned reputation for vigorous nest defense, this situation really was too dangerous to leave alone, in the BugWeek@UF staff’s humble opinion.
All it would take is one inattentive human being (or perhaps a dog) getting a couple of feet too close to that nest, and a swarm of yellow jackets would pour out to sting the intruder. That could be fatal, particularly for someone who wasn’t able to flee the area immediately.
As this video from Tampa’s WFLA television demonstrates, there was no shortage of volunteers when Simkins walked up on his quarry. And his bee-protection suit isn’t enough to stop the hundreds of angry yellow jackets that swarm out — several climb into the suit through tiny spaces, and sting Simkins.
Ultimately, Simkins kills the insects. That part isn’t shown in the video because it involves trade secrets, he says. The camera does show the aftermath of the treatment — dead yellow jackets piled up like so much drifted snow.
All of us here at BugWeek@UF salute Jonathan Simkins for his scholarship, his professional accomplishments, and his courage.
If UF were still producing the “Foundation for the Gator Nation” TV commercials, we’d recommend this situation for future inclusion. “Go deal with a yellow jacket nest the size of a small car. Go Gators!”
And if you’d like to learn more about yellow jackets, peruse this UF/IFAS “Featured Creatures” document on ‘em.