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Friday, July 24, 2009

Alien-Wasp Swarms Devouring Birds, Bugs in Hawaii

In an article written by Christine Dell'Amore for "National Geographic News", the author states:

"Attacking from nests as big as pickup-truck beds, invasive western yellowjacket wasps in Hawaii are munching their way through an "astonishing diversity" of creatures, from caterpillars to pheasants, a new study says."

"Adult yellowjackets consume only nectar. But they kill or scavenge prey to deliver needed protein to their growing broods."
"They basically just carry it in their mandibles—you see them flying with their balls of meat," said lead study author Erin Wilson, who just finished her Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego.

"In their native habitat in the western U.S., the wasps die off in winter. But in Hawaii the wasps survive the winter, possibly due to mild year-round temperatures or subtle genetic changes."

"A longer life-span gives the insects more time to build up their nests. So what would normally be a basketball-size nest can become, at the extreme, several feet long—big enough to fill the back of a pickup truck," Wilson said.

"The extra room allows a colony of 50,000 workers to explode to 500,000 or more. Larger colonies mean that the insects deplete more prey than in areas where the wasps die off in winter."

What is the solution to this problem? Wilson states:

" prey insects can easily rebound if yellowjacket nests are removed.Spiders and caterpillars that had been locally wiped out have returned within a few months when nearby wasp nests were taken out," Wilson said.
To read the remainder of the article go to:

It is interesting to note that, "Yellow jackets are heavy-bodied wasps, with black and yellow or white markings, explained Ross Penhallegon, horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service. (source:

According to my research,these options exist for scientists who must deal with this large increase in the population of yellowjackets in Hawaii:

(1) The use of poisoned baits might have to occur to achieve area-wide control. Poisoned baits can be extremely hazardous, but are effective for severe yellow jacket infestations. (source:Ross Penhallegon see reference above)

(2)Surprisingly,according to one website I discovered that the "only natural enemies of yellowjackets are skunks and raccoons who raid yellowjacket nests for food." (source: link) However at another website I found this statement:

"Although many animals prey on social wasps (including birds, reptiles, amphibians, skunks, bears, raccoons, spiders, preying mantids, and bald-faced hornets), none provides satisfactory biological control in home situations." (source:

(3)The third option is the Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit:How serious is this problem of Yellowjackets in Hawaii? So serious that the The Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit (HCSU), located within the Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC),has created a research project entirely devoted to finding ways of Suppressing the vast numbers of Alien Yellowjackets in Hawaii.At the Hawaii Cooperative Studies unit I found this statement concerning the yellowjacket problem in Hawaii:

"Since its spread throughout the Hawaiian Islands in the 1970s, the western yellowjacket wasp (Vespula pensylvanica) has become a dominant predator of arthropods in montane ecosystems. Among documented prey are endemic Hawaiian picture-wing Drosophila flies, potentially including twelve Candidate Endangered Species. In 2000, manufacturers of two widely used yellowjacket toxicants registered for use in Hawaii voluntarily discontinued production after the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency set stringent standards for reregistration. The objectives of this study are to test replacement baits for broad area control of yellowjackets, and alternative insecticidal dust for local suppression of wasp populations. This study will evaluate the feasibility of protecting local populations of native invertebrates in Hawaii through destruction of subterranean wasp colonies using insecticidal dusts. The project will utilize native arthropod habitat fragments among lava flows. The response of both wasps and at-risk native insects will be compared between treated and untreated kipukas. These data will be used to seek registration of this insecticidal dust for wasp control, to develop an integrated pest management program for yellowjackets in Hawaii, and to develop nest destruction protocols that can be integrated with other alien predator management at these sites."


For those of you who are interesting in learning how the yellowjackets got to Hawaii in the first place, I found this answer:

"Yellowjackets were introduced into the Hawaiian islands in a shipment of Christmas trees." (source:

So once again it is us Humans who have created an imbalance in the balance of nature somewhere in the world, by our careless actions, and now not only are the Humans on the Hawaiian islands being forced to deal with these pests, but all of the indigineous animal species which are being attacked by these yellojackets are having to contend with them.

Source of image of the yellowjacket:

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed

Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia

A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed

Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein

The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi

The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller

Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -

Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.